While temperatures generally averaged around normal across Southeast Lower Michigan, a closer inspection does reveal a bit more notable differences between the Saginaw Valley/Thumb Region and Flint area. A slightly cooler year was found across the northern sections of Southeast Lower Michigan (the Saginaw Valley/Thumb Region with 46.4/-0.6), while around Flint, the annual temperature actually averaged nearly a degree above (47.7/+0.9) (Detroit's annual departure sat between the two others with its 50.1 average claiming a +0.4 departure). In any event, temperatures overall averaged near normal in 2004 over Southeast Lower Michigan. Looking back at the year, however, most would dispute that "near normal" term and analogy for the year since frequently, 2004 was anything but normal.
Both temperature and precipitation trends rode distinctive sine-wave (or roller-coaster pattern) seasonally, monthly and intra-monthly. While this type of pattern comes with the territory, it has tended to be more active, exaggerated and changeable the last few years. This has coincided with the basically Neutral to weak El Nino pattern that has existed over the Pacific Ocean along with prevalent NAO/EPO phases. (for more on these and local season outlooks, see: /dtx/climate/local.php)
In a Neutral or a weak El Nino pattern, the Pacific Ocean has less of a moderating influence on our local changeable weather. Therefore, the better chance of wider temperature and precipitation swings (which have a tendency to balance out in the longer term, as evidenced in 2004). This is unlike the climate pattern of the late 1990s into early 2000's in which temperatures were more consistently above normal (even the year 2000 was generally mild but just one bitter cold month, December, with a -10 departure, pulled the annual temp back down closer to normal). Note the monthly temperatures and annual averages and trends since the late 1990s in Flint and Saginaw.
What had been normal to above normal temperature trend, reversed (highlighted) and changed to a more normal to below temperature cycle (commencing late in 2002 /October/). In 2004, this cycle evolved into an above/below normal cycle (and coincidently, aligning with the seasons). Thus, this resulted in annual temperatures for 2004 averaging around normal (while swinging between below and above normal) along with encouraging more volatile and changeable weather. This temperature pattern shows itself best at Saginaw, where there is little, if any heat island effect.
After three years of notably dry weather, (see HOW DRY WE ARE from the 2003 climate summary) more frequent and heavier rains/snows in 2004 helped the Saginaw Valley precipitation total end up closer to normal. The precipitation total in 2004 /29.71/ was the most precipitation recorded since 2000 (see table below)
|Saginaw Precipitation (2000-04)|
While, the total precipitation didn't make normal /31.61/, there still was a notable jump (about 6 1/2" /+6.49/) when compared to 2003. In HOW DRY WE ARE, the recent dry spell was compared to the late 1970s and if past patterns (Neutral/weak El NINO)and history were any guide, chances were that in 2004 (like 1980), the precipitation would return closer to normal (or even above).
|Saginaw Precipitation (1976-80)|
There was a wetter pattern a bit further south across extreme Southeast Lower Michigan into the Northern Ohio in 2004. Additional evidence of the wetter pattern across the Southern Great Lakes area in general recently, has been the recent increase in lake levels in, both, the southern Great Lakes and Inland. While some recovery in precipitation amounts occurred in 2004 across the Saginaw Valley, more precipitation is still needed to help replenish the deeper down water table.
Last winter's (2003-04) pattern also showed itself by way of frequently fluctuating temperatures and also ended up averaging "near normal" (to slightly below), in a winter that, ironically, was anything but normal. There were frequent wide monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily temperature swings.
The year of 2004 started out with January being an exceptionally cold and stormy month (after a deceivingly near record warm beginning, I might add). This pattern of mainly below normal temperatures held well into February. A mild change did come about by the latter third of February that helped turn the below normal departure into an above (more about the individual months follows this annual summary, below). Total snowfall from the Winter of 2003-04 ranged widely from two feet /24.1"/ at Detroit Metro Airport, to over four feet at both Flint and Saginaw, to higher than five feet /62.6"/ here at the NWS in White Lake.
As the winter melted into spring, the pendulum swung the other way again to a warmer than normal spring (in fact, it was the 4th warmest spring on record in Flint). While the winter was offset nicely by the warm spring, the spring contained excessively dry conditions in April and record breaking wet conditions in May. Flint, with an April total of .70", had its second driest April. Detroit, with just .69", placed it fourth for driest Aprils on record.
The tables turned abruptly again in May to excessively wet conditions. All stations (DTW/FNT/MBS/DTX) reported over eight inches of rain, which gave the region record or near record rainfall totals for May. Flint had its wettest May on record with 8.19" (along with eighth wettest month), while Saginaw had its second wettest May with 8.14" (and fifth wettest month). Detroit with 8.46" received its second wettest month since 1870. This very heavy rain resulted in record flooding at some locations.
The Summer of 2004 contained some interesting weather patterns and trends of its own with nearly persistent unseasonably cool weather (landing in the record books as one of our cooler summers in recent memory). The Summer of 2004 also contained some storm totals and severe weather statistics superseding that of the records just set the summer (2003) before! For more on the 2004 Severe Weather season, see: /dtx/climate/svr.php
As autumn got into full swing, the roller-coaster weather pattern got into high gear. The first month of autumn, September, actually better represented a typical nice summer month rather than a fall month. This was a meteorological bonus considering what the summer was like. Temperatures averaged considerably above normal in September and at the same time, it also was one of the driest Septembers on record. A sharp about-face in the jet stream from the north in early October, brought near record cold the first week of October but this too, was offset by near record warmth at the close of the month (dizzy, yet)?
Late fall into early winter 2004-05 brought a stormy, wet pattern with several shots of rain and snow. Ironically, the years end was most fitting with December and its wild temperature swings and stormy pattern. In the end, however, (and just like the year), the overall monthly temperature averaged right on normal, in a month that also was anything but.
After a relatively mild and somewhat snowless December, January was basically the opposite with plenty of cold and snow. So persistent was the cold and snow that one may forget that the month actually began "tropical". After a high of 40 on the new year's day, the high temperature hit 57 on the 2nd and 59 on the 3rd, both record highs! Saginaw also had record highs those days with 54 and 56 degrees, respectively.
It was pretty much downhill temperature-wise the rest of the month with the average temperature for the month still managing to average 4.1 below normal with 17.2 degrees. Investigating this further, if one eliminates just the first three days of the month, the average temperature for the month drops 2.5 Degrees to 14.7 which would have made January the 5th coldest on record. Coincidently, at Saginaw, the abundance of cold and snow placed it in the same positions as Flint, 11th coldest January and sixth snowiest. Saginaw's average temperature was even colder at just 15.1 degrees, while snowfall was nearly identical to Flint /24.2"/
The coldest January night occurred late in the month with a heavy snow cover on the 24th-25th. A -16 was a record low at Flint, while the thermometer slipped to -12 at Saginaw (though not the record). The last time the temperature fell lower than -16 at flint was back during the very cold winter of 1993-94 when on 2/10/94, the temperature dropped to -19. Not only did Flint and Saginaw share monthly stats for coldest and snowiest, they both also had ten days where the temperature fell below zero! Normally five zero or below days are felt in January, and about 11 days for an entire winter, so basically, we got our fair share in one month!
A strong Clipper scooted southeast across the Southern Great Lakes on the 14th. In it's wake, snowfalls ranged from around 2" close to the Ohio border, to as much as a foot over portions of Genesse County. Officially at Bishop Airport, 9.8" was measured while Saginaw received 7". The highest snowfall in the area was 11" Grand Blanc, while the thumb region generally saw less between 5" and 8".
Another Texas Low moved into the upper Ohio Valley on the 27th and left another 4 to 8" of snow across the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region. Officially at Flint, just 4.9" fell, while Saginaw received 5.0". This snowstorm brought the monthly snow totals to around two feet at both cities. Flint at 24.2" and Saginaw 24.4", making it the sixth snowiest January for both cities.
A well deserved break in the cold and snow action arrived by late February. While temperatures continued to average below normal for the first two thirds of the month, the relatively mild and nice ending of the month offset the earlier cold. By the close of February, the monthly temperature managed to climb out of the hole and actually place above normal /+1.1/ for the month in Flint. After the 18th, there was a definite step up in the temperature department as the arctic air lifted back north into Canada. Sure there were still some overnight lows dipping down to between 10 and 20 but at least they were above zero.
With temperatures rising well into the 30s and 40s and maxing-out one day at 56/29th/, readings averaged close to seven degrees above normal from the 20th - 29th. That 56 degree high on the 29th was the first time we saw a 50 degree reading or better since a 59 on Jan 3rd.
Temperatures were not so quick to warm, however, across the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region late in the month. Widespread snow cover, several days of low stratus clouds and occasional wind off of Lake Huron inhibited the warm up. High temperatures held down in the 30s until the last couple of days of the month when readings finally rose into the 40s. This delay in warming also resulted in the monthly average temperature at Saginaw falling below normal once again (21.9/-1.9).
The milder month at Flint was also a result of the storm track lifting northward, well up into Michigan. This is reflected well in the snowfall totals and pattern across the region. Barely an inch /0.9/ of snow was observed at Detroit and just 6.1" fell in Flint (both below normal and in the snowless Februarys list). However, in Saginaw, snowfall was actually above normal snow with 10 1/2" or +2.2". The most notable snow event of the month occurred in the Saginaw Valley on the 23rd-24th. Snowfall totals of 4 - 7" were received from Bay and Midland County, south into northern Saginaw and Tuscola counties.
The overall lack of major storms during February was rather evident by the record February dryness at Flint (13th place and tied with 1982) and subsequent lack of snow (20th snowless). Despite a few remarkably cold and warm days in the month, no record highs or lows were set.
March opened unseasonably mild and wet with daily temperatures the first five days averaging around 46 degrees, or about 13 degrees above the normal /33/. During this mild spell, the mercury surged to 66 degrees on the 5th which tied and thus, superseded the old record high of 66 set first in 1983. Saginaw's high that day of 61 just missed the record of 63 set way back in 1910.
A low pressure system and strong cold front surged through Michigan later on the 5th, bringing a squall of showers and a wind gust of 46 mph at Flint Bishop Airport. Heavy rains accompanied the system with .78 of an inch recorded at Flint and nearly an inch /.96/ at Saginaw on the 4-5th. After the storm, colder weather returned during the second and third week of March with normal to below normal temperatures.
An impressive but quick blast of polar air on the 12-13th dropped high temperatures back down into the 20s and 30s, while lows fell into the teens. A swath of snow accompanied still another storm as it pushed its way through the Northern Ohio Valley on the 16-17th (just in time for St Patrick's Day). The heaviest snow fell south of the Flint area with mainly an inch or less over the entire region. Cold weather continued to hover over the area with high temperatures around 30 both days (16th/17th), close to 15 degrees below normal.
Intermittent snowfall during these colder days of March brought the monthly snowfall total to over five inches /5.3/ at Flint /-2.4" normal/. The big short-fall in snowfall, however, was around the Saginaw area where less than two inches /1.9/ fell. This made it the 14th snowless March on record since 1900 at Saginaw.
Ironically, the first day of spring /20th/ arrived somewhat “appropriately" for a change with readings rising into the upper 50s along with some spotty heavy rain and sunshine. Another surge of polar air followed and dropped high temperatures back into the 30s and lows mainly in the teens for a few days. Much warmer air pushed back into the region during the final week of March, bringing occasional showers and partly cloudy conditions. Like March's opening week, much of its final week also contained unseasonably mild weather. Highs rose back up into the 50s and 60s until the close /31st/ when colder weather returned along with rain and snow showers.
Not since the year official records began in Flint /1942/ has an April been so dry. The seven tenths of an inch of rain /.70/ that fell this April in Flint placed second for driest Aprils. What light rain and snow that did fall was scattered throughout the month with the .30" that fell on the 25th was by far the "heaviest" daily rainfall and was nearly half the monthly total.
Mother nature was somewhat more generous across the Saginaw Valley with several co-operative weather observers reporting two to three inches of rain in April. Officially at Saginaw airport, 1.74 inches of rain fell but this was still over an inch below the average /2.82/.
While the average temperature for the month averaged above normal, and placed in at the fifth warmest April, the first half of the month actually averaged below normal. A strong warm surge pushed into the region mid month from the 15th-21st, when all, but on day averaged well above normal (about 17 degrees). The high temperature of 87 degrees on 18th broke a recently set record of 86 /2002/. This also matched the highest temperature on record ever reached in April, again just two years ago on April 16th 2002 when it also hit 87. In Saginaw, a high of 86 on the 18th was indeed the warmest temperature so early in the season.
Interesting (but hardly surprising, given the sharply fluctuating temperatures in 2004), note the high temperatures in the last week of April at Flint: 57, 74, 64, 45, 74, 80, 72. So cold was the 27th that snow fell overnight and measured .1 of an inch".
Severe weather events were basically kept at bay due to the dry weather. A strong low pressure and cold front, however, did plow across the Great Lakes on the 18-19th. Winds gusted up into the 30s and 40s /mph/ and officially at Flint, the wind gusted to 51 mph.
Never in the history of climate records for Flint has a may been this stormy or wet across the Flint area. So much so, that a public information statement regarding the rain, storms, flooding and severe weather warnings can be found on the internet at: /dtx/may2004.php
At 8.19" of rain in May, Flint inhabitants saw their wettest May on record since 1942. This 8.19" surged past the old record of 7.35" /+.84/. What may be surprising is that less than four years ago, even more rain fell in July 2000 with 8.55". The all-time monthly record of 11.04" set back in August 1975. During the flooding in September 1986, rainfall totaled 10.86" which was second highest monthly rainfall ever.
The heavy rainfall extended across all of Southeast Lower Michigan with Saginaw measuring 8.14". This amount placed May 2004 in second place for wettest Mays and fifth place for all-time wettest months since 1900. During the widespread flooding in September 1986, Saginaw recorded an unprecedented 16.16".
Numerous thunderstorms during the month raised the amount of storm days to 15. This blew away the old record of thunderstorm days for the month of May which was 9, set back just two years ago in 2002 and again in 1956. The record amount of thunderstorm days for any month was also shattered with those 15 days. The old record also occurred back in 1956 when both July and August totaled 12 days (not surprising, 1956 holds the record for annual thunderstorms with 53-normal is about 33). July 1980 also contained 12 thunderstorm days for the three-way monthly tie that was broken this May.
Thunderstorms containing very heavy amounts of rain rumbled through the Flint region on the 21st-23rd and broke the excessive rainfall records for each day. Just over an inch /1.03/ of rain fell on the 21st, then 1.12 fell on the 22nd and finally, 1.39" was measured on the 23rd. The rainfall totaled over 3 1/2" /3.54/ for the three day period and it was during a 24 hour period from the 22nd-23rd that 1.80" fell. Up in Saginaw, 1.41" fell on the 23rd for excessive daily rainfall, while 1.81" fell on the 8-9th for the 24 hour period monthly maximum rainfall.
Since the month averaged 2.5 degrees above normal with an average temperature of 59.6 degrees, it was the 13th warmest May on record since 1942. The last time a May was nearly this warm was back in 2000 with an average temperature 59.4. The past three spring months made for one of our warmer springs on record. There were no record highs nor lows during the otherwise, very active month.
Spring of 2004 ended up in the record books as the 4TH warmest and 7TH wettest in Flint and 6th wettest in Saginaw (check out /dtx/summer2004_outlook.php#spring)
The unusually stormy and wet pattern that commenced early in may, showed signs of calming down by mid June after six weeks of storms, severe weather and flooding. A definitive upper wind shift to the northwest was a welcome change by mid month. This northwest flow brought notably drier and cooler conditions, but still, very pleasant early summer weather.
Despite the change later in the month, June still was an active month by way of thunderstorms due to clashing air masses. Severe weather occasionally made an appearance through mid month with severe thunderstorms containing hail, high winds and even isolated weak tornadoes.
The active first part of June brought above normal rainfall with nearly two inches /1.91/ falling by the 16th. Several locations reported 9-12" of rain in the six week period over portions of Southeast Lower Michigan. Flint measured just over ten inches /10.10/ from May 1st- June 16th, while Saginaw received 9.51". Much of the Saginaw Valley, Thumb region, south across the Flint area saw extensively dry conditions during the early 2000's. a change in the pattern to wetter conditions commenced last winter and, with the exception of a relatively dry April, has continued into early summer.
A quick shot of hot and humid weather gave the area really only a couple of uncomfortable days in June. a record high of 90 was registered in Flint on the 8th, tying the old record set first in 1952.
Some impressive surges of polar air routinely pushed into eastern half of the country during the last 12 days of the month. Temperatures fell into the 40s and 50s for several nights straight from the 19th through the 30th. Wile no record lows were set at Flint, Saginaw did achieve a record low of 42 degrees on the 25th.
Since mid month, temperatures averaged consistently below normal every day until the 30th. This wiped out the above normal temperature departure with June's final average temperature dropping to 66 degrees /.2 below normal/. Saginaw's average temperature of 65.1 for June came in 1.7 degrees below normal.
July 2004 was cool but comfortable across Southeast Lower Michigan. The coolest weather with the largest below normal departures were across the flint area, northward into the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region. Temperatures across this area averaged between two and three degrees below normal. July 2004 ranked the eighth coolest on record Flint (average 68.4) and the tenth coolest in Saginaw (average 68.5). The last time a July was this cool (or cooler) in Flint was in 1996 when the average temperature was 67.6, or sixth coolest July on record.
The coolest period of this July, ironically, occurred just about the time we historically should experience our warmest weather of the season. temperatures from the 23rd through the 30th averaged an impressive seven degrees below normal. The coolest of days /24th and 27th/ averaged about 12 degrees below normal. A low of 46 degrees on the 24th came within one degree of the record /45/. The 27th wins hands down for one of the lousiest summer days in recent memory in Southeast Lower Michigan. The high temperature reached just 63 in Flint and over an inch of rain fell while a brisk northeast wind blew. That high of 63 was also a record low maximum and furthermore, the 60 degree mean of day made it the coldest July 27th ever recorded in Flint. On the 24th, the high of 72 was also a record low maximum and the mean temperature that day, 59, made it the coolest July 24th on record. Finally, a high of just 65 on the 8th also was another record low maximum for that date in Flint.
Rainfall during July varied across Southeast Lower Michigan with portions of the Flint area south, into Detroit's northern suburbs receiving the heavier amounts. Flint's rainfall of 3.78 was .61 of an inch above normal, while further north in Saginaw, rainfall was quite a bit lower with just over an inch /1.14/. Severe weather became less frequent during the month. The most notable severe weather event took place late on the 13th into the 14th. A cold front spawned lines of strong to severe thunderstorms while it pushed through the region. numerous reports of hail and high winds were received here at the NWS. Wind gusts from Flint northward into the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region averaged 50 to 70 mph with hail up to around penny size.
Usually one of our warmest and nicest summer months, August this summer was down right cool. Out of the 31 days in August, 22 days averaged below normal. Had it not been for the warmer period late in the month, the average temperature would have placed August at both Flint and Saginaw at the top for coldest August on record. In fact, even as late as the 23rd, Flint's temperature averaged 64.2 /coldest Aug, 64.8-1967/ and Saginaw's temperature of 64.1 /tied with coldest Aug, 64.1-1915/. What added insult to injury was the timing of the chill this month and summer. The period of late July through mid august was an extraordinarily cool period, when compared to it usually being one of the warmest.
During the peak of the "summer-chill", the temperature dropped to 43 at Saginaw on the 15th and broke the record of 46 set back in 1962. Later on the 22nd, and "signaling" a end to the four week cool spell, the temperature also fell to 43 at Flint, breaking the old record of 45 set back in 1973. What has been too common-place this summer has been record low maximums set and chalk up another one for Flint in August. On August 11th, another chilly day with light rain plagued Flint when the temperature rose only to 64 /normal 80/. This broke the record low maximum of 65 set back in 1994 by one degree. It only got worse on the 12TH when the temperature barely made it into the 60S with a high of just 62/-18 normal/. It was the coldest high of the month but still missed tying the record low maximum /61-1964/ by just one degree! By the way, the coldest high ever recorded in Flint for all of August was just a few degrees lower than this august and that was 59 on the 28th back in the "Cold summer of 1992"
For the second month in a row, no 90 degrees days were recorded in Flint. Historically, July and August see the bulk of the 90 degree days. On average in Flint, three 90 degree days are felt in July and two in august (the warm season average is seven). Only one 90 degree day occurred this summer and that was in way back in early June /8th/.
While a drier that normal month, thunderstorms days totaled up to about normal, five. Between rain days, however, there was a long period of virtually no rain leading to the drier than average August. Only .01 of an inch of rain fell from the 12th through the 24th. The heaviest rains recorded were early and late in the month with 1.04 falling on the 4th and .97 of an inch falling the weekend of the 28-29th.
Michigan is known for its changeable weather but it seems like Mother Nature has been working overtime lately and September was no exception...
After inhabitants of Southeast Lower Michigan dealt with a nearly persistently cool summer, September bounced back big time with numerous beautiful sunny days and summer-like temperatures. With an average temperature of 64.2, this September placed in at 9th warmest in Flint. With an average of 64.6, this September was the 15th warmest at Saginaw. The last time it was this warm or warmer at both cities was just a few years ago in 2002.
The first three weeks of September were quite warm for the month with the average temperature 66 to 67 degrees at Flint. This would have placed this September up near the top (1-3) of the list for warmest Septembers. In addition, for much of September it was warmer than either summer month of June /65.9/ or August /65.6/ at Flint. Despite all the warmth, Flint only had one record high and that occurred late in the month with an 85 on the 23rd.
Dry conditions in August were exacerbated in September with meager rainfalls and the numerous sunny warm days. The monthly rainfall of just .76", made it the 7th driest September on record at Flint and with just .73" at Saginaw, it was the 4th driest September. The negligible rainfall across Southeast Lower Michigan near the end of the growing season is in stark contrast to the beginning of the growing season, where all four stations had better than eight inches of rain in May.
While October's final mean temperature averaged above normal, much of the early-mid month period averaged below normal. This cool weather was so aggressive during the first week that by the fifth, temperatures averaged 12 degrees below normal. The morning low of 25 on the 5th broke the old record low of 28/1965 by three degrees. In Saginaw, the low dipped to 26 and this too, established a new record low. The cold weather was also accompanied by an early hard freeze that morning which put an end to the growing season. After a brief break brought milder temperatures into the region for a few days, colder weather settled back in again basically from the 10th-21st, when readings averaged about two-three degrees below normal across the entire region.
Big changes in the upper wind flow to a predominant southwest flow took place during the last third of the month, bringing much warmer weather to the region. Temperatures pushed well up into the 50s/60s during that period, peaking at both Flint and Saginaw with a 72 degree reading on the 30th (well above the normal high of 54 for the date but missing the records).
That wasn't the only thing "peaking" that day as an intense low pressure surged through the Great Lakes and brought very strong winds. The storm center (central pressure near 29.00 inches) caused wind gusts to peak between 45 and 55 mph. Flint reported a 51 mph wind gust, while Saginaw recorded a 47 mph gust. Several reports of downed tree branches and power outages were noted along with some widely scattered damage. The storm also brought around an inch or rain to both Flint and Saginaw and helped bring monthly rainfall totals up considerably, to what had been a dry month.
November certainly showed its pleasant and nasty side this year. Despite being occasionally chilly, the first half of the month was fairly nice for the most part with considerable sunshine. In fact, out of the entire month the were nine clear days and six partly cloudy, about half the month and not bad for a November in Flint. Here at White Lake (where the official sunshine minutes are taken for Southeast Lower Michigan) the actual sunshine was running nearly double /63%/ that of the normal /35%/ through mid month. Unfortunately, that pace did not continue as the more common dreary days of November arrived more frequently the latter half of the month, dropping that 63% average down to near 41% at month's end (but still above the normal and in the top 25% for sunniest Novembers since 1891).
Indian summer-like weather pushed into the region from the 16th-23rd when temperatures averaged close to ten degrees above normal. On the 18th, the mercury rose to 61 degrees, a good 15 degrees above normal. This mid-month warmth was mainly responsible for the above normal average for the month as the remaining three weeks actually averaged normal to below.
As mentioned, November showed its truer face the last week or so when the jet stream abruptly shifted to a more northerly direction and like the first couple of weeks of the month, temperatures were near or below seasonal levels. The shift (and resulting mix) in the jet stream allowed for a more prolific storm track. A deepening low pressure system tracked northeast through the Ohio Valley and eastern Lower Great Lakes on Thanksgiving eve. The storm brought a swath of heavy snow and rain across much of area. The rain/snow line from this system was quite discernible from snow spotter reports and confirmed on satellite over Southeast Lower Michigan come thanksgiving morning. Heaviest snow fell across the Flint and Lapeer areas, northwestward into the Saginaw Valley. Peak snowfalls ranged from four to eight inches. Needless to say this snarled holiday travel conditions, especially the day before thanksgiving.
Officially, Flint Bishop Airport reported 4.6" while Saginaw had a hefty seven inches. This storm left both cities with a white thanksgiving (and also placed both in their top twenty snowiest Novembers listing).
A second storm center brought milder weather and rain over the region Thanksgiving weekend. The month ended late on the 30th in preparation for yet another system to bring a wintry mix of rain and snow as we "slid" into December.
December was an active month weather-wise across the region with weather systems frequently traversing the area and bringing above normal amounts of both rain and snow. A busy storm track including a series of clippers and Ohio Valley Lows the were responsible for these frequent bursts of rain and snow (not to mention quite variable temperatures). In spite of the high weather volatility in December, no record highs or lows were set officially at Flint nor Saginaw.
At the month's opening, a low pressure system pushing through Northwest Ohio on the 1st brought a broad area of rain and snow across Southeast Lower Michigan. Rain changed to snow over the region with a couple of inches of snow falling at both Flint and Saginaw. Higher amounts were reported at Linwood /5.5"/, Goodrich /4.5"/ and 4.0" at Pinconning.
An intense storm center approached the area on the 7th and brought strong winds (prompting a high wind advisory), very heavy rains, and a brief strong warm-up. The heaviest rains of the month accompanied this system on the surge of warm air. Rainfall amounts measured generally 3/4" to around an inch (not bad for December) with Flint receiving .65" and Saginaw .79". Poseyville, however, well north in Midland County, reported one of the highest amounts with 1.69"! Temperatures jumped up into the mid 50s in response to the warm frontal passage with a 55 degree reading recorded at Flint (which came within four degrees of the record high, 59/1951). The central pressure of the storm /29.15"/ tracked directly across Southeast Lower Michigan with strong winds gusting well into the 40s /mph/.
Yet another strong storm rode through the southern Great Lakes on the 10th - 12th. As the storm approached, rain ahead the storm changed over to snow as polar air was drawn into the system. A reinforcing shot of cold air brought more snow to the region on the 12-13th. Flint three Day /11-13th/ snowfall total came in at 3.4" while Saginaw received 5.8".
The above systems signaled a change in the upper jet stream mid month to a strong northwest flow that lasted until the last few days of the month. The first of a couple of impressive Arctic air masses blew into the Great Lakes on the 19th and plummeted nighttime lows to near zero or below. Temperatures fell to -4 and -7 at Flint on the 19/20th, while Saginaw bottomed at -3 and -4, respectively. Another "bonus" from this frigid air streaming across the warmer waters of lake Huron was heavy lake effect snow across the thumb. The band of the heaviest snow, 10" to 18", fell over the tip of the thumb.
Flint with 13.7" of snow placed in at the 12th snowiest December on record, while Saginaw's 16.7" snowfall, placed it in at 16th snowiest December. A pre-Christmas snowstorm, (12/23), charged up the eastern Ohio Valley and into the Lower Great Lakes. The strong storm brought blizzard or near blizzard conditions in the thumb region. Nearly all the snow fell by early afternoon on the 23rd, leaving a wide range of snowfalls (2"-10" with the higher values in the eastern areas near Lake Huron). Officially at Flint, 4.9" fell, while Saginaw saw a lesser amount with just 2.5".
While early Christmas travel was hampered, things quieted down in time for Christmas day itself. Temperatures plummeted down into the sub-zero range (and near record cold) for the second time this December (Christmas morning) with readings falling to between -3 /Saginaw/ to -12 /Pinconning/.
The Christmas week (24-31st) played out the temperature roller-coaster pattern best of all. As stated above, the week started out with bitter cold and below zero temperatures, then by New years Eve, a strong warm front pushed temperatures up to near 60 (and this time, near record warmth). Some places in Southeast Lower Michigan showed a temperature range of over 70 degrees that last week of 2004!