Above-average precipitation is expected to continue for the Southeast Michigan region with the way the winter weather is shaping up this season.
The National Weather Service’s outlook for the winter season was above-normal temperatures for December and much of the first half of January and then for colder temps to come in – which Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rich Pollman with the NWS Detroit/Pontiac Office says has sort of happened recently.
Pollman says most notable this winter season is above average temperatures and precipitation, the combination of which have left the southeast Michigan region right around average for snowfall, maybe a touch below. What he says helped that was the snowstorm on Veterans Day – combined with last weekend’s snowstorm – and both have put the area pretty close to average snowfall for the season. Pollman says between those two large storms, plus with the little snows along the way – there’s been enough snow to bring the area just below or near average snowfall amounts. Pollman says the average for Southeast Michigan is generally 44 to 48 inches, depending on where you’re at. He says Metro Detroit is close to 44 inches while those closer to Flint and the highlands of Oakland County are around 48 or 50 inches. So far, the average snowfall for mid-January should be about 20 inches and Pollman says we’re right around that.
For this winter season, Pollman says we haven’t broken any records except daily rainfall and snowfall records. He noted the Veterans Day snowstorm on January 11th broke a daily record and a November snowstorm record. Pollman says at this point it’s been pretty warm for winter – certainly not the warmest on record – but it could be in the top 20 warmest on record. He says November was cold but technically that’s a fall month. When you look at the actual winter months of December, January and February; Pollman says it has been very warm since December 1st and this most recent cold snap is just taking a little bite out of the warmth we’ve had for first six weeks of winter.
Pollman says the official forecast for February is near normal temps. He says the NWS was forecasting for above normal precipitation for the winter months, which has come true. Pollman says we’ve already reached the normal precipitation amount for December, January and February combined as of mid-January. He says any additional precipitation over the next six weeks is just going to add-on to the above-average winter – which is not necessarily great news for areas that are subject to flooding.
Although the first day of spring is approaching March 19th, Pollman says it’s really not too unusual for Michigan to experience winter conditions throughout that month. Pollman says March is usually a winter month in Michigan and it looks like better than average chances for below-normal temperatures, adding the above-average precipitation trend looks to continue. He says we’ll probably hold on to winter little bit longer than most people want during the month of March – which is not too unusual.
Once we get into spring, Pollman says it looks like a continuation of a cool, wet period that could result in water issues across the state with springtime flooding and high waters on the Great Lakes. He noted there’s a lot of high water in and around Michigan – especially when talking about the Great Lakes. Pollman says the Great Lakes levels water levels will continue to be high. He says we’re already starting off the high water season one foot higher than last year so even if there are only normal springtime rains, we’ll still approach records set last year on the Great Lakes. If there is above-average precipitation, Pollman says we could break the records that were just set in 2019.
Pollman says the rainfall we had the weekend of January 11th and 12th broke an all-time January record for daily rainfall – meaning it never rained more than any other January day than on Saturday the 11th. He says all of this is probably leading to it being among the top 20 wettest winters on record. Pollman says we of course still have six weeks to go but even if we get normal precipitation, this will easily be in the top 20 wettest winters on record for southeast Michigan. (JM)