Well, it has been another eventful weather year across Southeast Lower Michigan. The wide swings in both temperatures and precipitation was again notable and frequently record producing in 2005. One of the most eye-catching patterns was the regular placement each city (Detroit/Flint/Saginaw) made in the "extreme" or top 20 lists. This was even attained in every top 20 season list starting late in 2004 and through 2005. And not only did every season make the top 20 lists in one or more of the cities (Detroit/Flint/Saginaw) but for largely varying weather phenomenon such as coldest, warmest, wettest, driest and snowiest. There was even a season (autumn) where the driest and wettest list was almost attained at the three locations. Yes, Mother Nature has a way of balancing it out!
While this "extreme" variability was one of the main features of 2005, the periods between substantial changes in weather patterns seemed to elongate. In other words, when it was cold and temperatures averaged below normal, they stayed below normal longer and visa-versa. This was more notable in the Flint and Detroit area during 2005 while Saginaw, which was closer to the storm track, displayed a more changeable pattern. The precipitation patterns between the years and even the cities shows the overall drier conditions from Flint southward to the Ohio border, especially in 2005 and implies the northward shift of the storm track during 2005. Detroit's precipitation total for 2005 was just 28.31" or 4.58 below normal, while Saginaw actually averaged normal. Interestingly this is a reversal from 2001-03 period when the driest conditions were across the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region and the wettest from metro Detroit south to the Northern Ohio Valley.
Let's delve into this further by comparing the two years as far as above/below normal temperature periods and above/below normal precipitation periods.
|D E T R O I T|
|Monthly Average Temperatures|
|Monthly Precipitation Totals|
|temp/precip at or near normal|
|temp above normal||precip above normal|
|temp below normal||precip below normal|
Just a quick glance at the above table shows that the durations of above or below temperature and precipitation trends, generally did last longer in 2005. This possibility of intermediate trend change was suggested back in the Spring of '04 (Summer Outlook 2005).
"It is felt that the pattern of relatively dry and tranquil weather followed by notably wet and stormy periods of the past several seasons continues to persist (and each, possibly now for longer durations). While this still confirms the "feast or famine" regime we've become more accustom to the past several years, we will have to keep watch for the possibility of the evolution of longer durations of each (wet and dry)."
Any farmer or gardener in Southeast Lower Michigan doesn't have to be told that when they reflect back on the growing season in 2005 (along with their water bill). Note the extensive period of dry weather pretty much from the spring into the early fall. The only glaring exception was the heavy convective rains that fell in July that amounted to well over five inches /5.38"/ of rain. The remainder of the time, generally drier than normal rainfall plagued farmers and gardeners alike. It was exceptionally bad at the beginning and tail end of the season, when a record dry March started the season and another record dry October, finished it. Curiously, this came on the heels of a very wet and snowy winter that persisted for several months (which, by the way, preceded a drier than normal fall /2004/).
The Winter of 2004-05 was a very busy winter with numerous snowfalls which right off jumped into the top 20 snowiest/wettest months and winter season lists. Check out this snowiest winter season ranking...
|2004-05 Winter Snowfall Ranking|
|Detroit||63.7"||7th (in 125 years)||74.0"||1981-82||3rd|
|Flint||73.0"||5th (in 62 years)||76.6"||1975-76||3rd|
|Saginaw||75.5"||3rd (in 105 years)||83.5"||1951-52||2nd|
Of course, with all the snow that flew you would expect a good chance of making the wettest winters list and right you are...
|2004-05 Winter Precipitation Ranking|
|LAST TIME A WETTER
|Detroit||9.33"||10th (in 125 years)||9.36"||1984-85||9th|
|Flint||7.48"||7th (in 62 years)||8.16"||2000-01||14th|
|Saginaw||7.87"||10th (in 105 years)||11.95"||1996-97||1st|
January was an impressive winter month across the region, not only because of its wide ranging temperatures and rain/snowstorms but because it followed a December that was almost a duplicate. In both January and December, temperatures averaged above normal the first half of the month and below normal the second half. Record highs and lows were flirted with (though none were officially established at Detroit) on the more extreme days during each month with the wide Temperature swings. Temperatures ranged from lows of -5 to -15 (and locally lower) at many locations to highs near 60, or around 70 degrees during both months. Ironically, despite all the temperature gyrations and wide ranges both December and January ended up averaging within a few tenths of normal! The other strong pattern trend that was displayed in both months was the active storm track. A strong Alberta clipper clobbered the area with generally 8" to 14" of snow on January 22nd. Officially at Detroit Metro Airport, 12.2" of snow fell on the 22nd. That amount placed the storm in at 11th place for biggest snowstorm.
Very little change in the overall winter pattern was seen in February as the active storm track continued bringing above normal amounts of rain and snow. True, the balance of the first week of February gave the region a well-deserved break with relatively mild temperatures and benign weather conditions.
Up through mid-month, the overall mild weather was reflected well in the monthly departures which averaged around 3 to 5 degrees above normal. A turn to generally colder weather the rest of the month, brought the monthly temperature departure down to about a degree above normal. Ironically, all three winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb) temperatures averaged above normal the first half of the month and below normal the second half.
The most notable storm to hit the area in February moved into the region on the 20th. Snow overspread Southeast Lower Michigan and continued all day before changing over to sleet and freezing rain in some areas by evening. The heavy wet snow amounted to mainly 4" to 8" inches with the heaviest over portions of the northern suburbs with officially, Detroit Metro Airport recording just under 7" /6.9"/.
A relatively cold and very dry spring dominated the region with spring precipitation well below normal. With only 4.25" of precipitation in the Spring of 2005, this was 4.37 below normal, So we basically got half our normal amount. This placed Detroit in third place for the driest spring on record. So extensive was the rainfall deficit that all locations placed very high on the list for top 20 Driest Springs. It's interesting (and in keeping with our all too familiar feast or famine regime lately, just a year earlier /Spring 2004/, all cities ranked in the top ten wettest springs! The last time it was as dry or drier across the Metro Detroit Area was back in the Spring of 1988 (which was followed by our third hottest summer) when 3.53" of rain fell, which made it the second driest spring. At Flint, with a total of 3.75" only one other spring was drier and that was in 1958 when just 3.22" fell. The Summer of '58 was also Detroit's driest spring with just 3.32"). Lastly at Saginaw, the last time it was as dry or drier was back in 1979 when 4.65" (the Spring of '58 was Saginaw's second driest spring with 3.87").
Severe weather was almost non-existent this spring when compared to last spring. Spring 2005 was our second least active spring since 1986 (1993 was our least active), whereas spring of 2004 was our busiest and this was primarily due to May, with all its severe weather and heavy rainfall.
|2005 - Spring Average Temperature and Rainfall Departure/Rank|
|Ave||(T)||46.8/ -1.5||43.6/ -1.8 14th||42.8/-2.7||43.5/--|
|Total||(P)||4.25/4.37 3rd||3.75/-4.34 2nd||4.78/-3.35 11th||5.07/--|
|Note: White Lake has no official normals at this time; the - /N/+ just denotes an estimate of above/normal/below (-- much below).|
For more about the spring in Southeast Lower Michigan, see the spring review in the 2005 summer outlook.
March of 2005 was one cold month across Southeast Lower Michigan with much of the time, playing out like another winter month! Through mid March, the average temperature at Detroit was just 26.6 degrees. This temperature is colder than both December's and February's normals /29.6 and 27.2 respectively/and colder than our normal winter temperature /27.1/. Further away from the city area, average temperatures in the lower to mid 20s through mid month were commonplace. For the entire month, temperature averages ranged from the upper 20s to lower 30s across the area (well below the 36.9 normal average). While the second part of March was less cold and several days closer to normal (including the urban heat island effect) did help raise the average temperature back up to 33.1 and thus, we failed to place in the top 20 coldest Marches. However, both Flint and Saginaw were well within the range of the top 20 coldest Marches.
There were other noteworthy items about March (and sometimes at opposite ends of the spectrum but this just reflects our wacky winter). With just .74" of precipitation, March 2005 placed solidly in 5th place for the driest march on record (only four other Marches in 135 years were drier). In spite of this dryness, snowfalls averaged around normal to above normal. Since March was such a cold month, nearly all the precipitation fell as snow. Snowfalls ranged from generally a half a foot to well over a foot across the region. At the lower end of the scale, officially at Detroit, 7.4" of snow fell but here at White Lake, 12.3" of snow fell
March opened with the roar of the lion with heavy snow to much of the area. Snowfalls from the storm ranged from an inch or two near the Ohio border, to as much as 6 to 7 inches scattered about in the northern suburbs. While temperatures moderated late in the first week to the lower 50s, it was only brief as another surge of arctic air dashed any hope of an early spring by the 8th. High temperatures dropped back down into the 20s with lows of around zero to the teens. Some light snowfalls accompanied the cold temperatures which continued right through the third week of March. Considerable sunshine during the month was actually a plus resulting from the colder drier air masses late in the season.
By the last few days of the month /29th-31st/, we finally got a good taste of spring as temperatures surged into the 60s (but nowhere near records).
With such an exceptionally variable and stormy winter it was actually fitting that the Winter of 2004-05 went out with a bang and not a whimper. If the persistent cold and snow during March was not enough to extend an already lengthy winter, mother nature really gave us a sucker punch late in April.
A very nice stretch of sunny, dry (actually too dry) weather commenced late March into the first three weeks of April. So minimal was the rainfall that less than a quarter of an inch /.23/ fell between March 24th - April 20th (or almost four weeks). Here at White Lake, from March 21st - April 20th just .14 fell.
The sunny, pleasant and beautiful weather reached a climax on the 19th when record highs (all 83) were attained at the three climate stations (DTW/FNT/MBS). After the 19th, however, the weather was all downhill, accelerating big-time by the weekend. A series of cold fronts from the 20th to the 23rd, dropped temperatures some 40-50 degrees by the weekend /23-24th/! An intense low pressure developed along an arctic cold front in the Upper Ohio Valley on the 23rd-24th and actually backed westward into the Eastern Lower Great lakes (over southwest Ontario - central pressure about 29.25 inches /986 MB/). This storm brought the worse late April weather seen in these parts in several decades. Snowfalls from the storm ranged wildly from a trace to as much as 16.5" with the heaviest falling across the highland areas from central Oakland County northeast into the Thumb Region (around Bad Axe). This very late snowstorm was the "icing on the cake" so to speak on what already had been a very snowy season. Incredibly, our May 9th, 1923 snowstorm which contained similar snow depths occurred about two weeks later in the season! Officially at Detroit, 4.3" of snow fell over the two days (1.2" on the 23rd and 3.1"),both of which were records snowfall (1.2" on the 23rd and 3.1" on the 24th)
The cool wet weather persisted the remainder of April, quite a contrast from early April, with temperatures rising mainly into the 40s and 50s. the day of the snowstorm /24th/,the high of just 35 was a record low maximum for the date.
May 2005 was a rather cool and dry may across Southeast Lower Michigan. The average temperature of just 56.6 was over 3 degrees /3.2/ below normal. The month had only 7 days that averaged above normal. However, despite the significant below normal departure, May of 2005 was still about two degrees warmer than the 20th coolest may /54.7/.
The month opened very cool across the region as a strong polar air mass blew into town at the month's open. so cold were the 2nd/3rd that temperatures averaged 14 degrees below normal and there were even scattered snow showers. Both Detroit and here at the NWS in White Lake /DTX/ reported a tenth of an inch of snow. The last time measurable snow officially fell at Detroit was 51 years ago in 1954 on May 4th, when a tenth of an inch of snow also fell. Detroit had measurable snow for seven months /Nov-May/ straight, not a record but long enough. The winter of 1953-54 had an even longer measurable snow record that extended from Nov 6th - May 4th (as opposed to this past season's which ran from Nov 25th - May 3rd).
while may was dry (about half the normal rainfall), the entire spring was excessively dry (to see more about the spring check see above).
Severe weather has been almost non-existent this spring, especially when compared to last year (our busiest). The Spring of 2005 was the second least active spring since 1986 (1993 was our least active). Only one day /Friday the 13th/ contained any severe weather this May when scattered thunderstorms, a few severe, occurred over the extreme southeast corner of Lower Michigan. some reports of hail (1/2-1" in diameter) and gusty winds were relayed to the NWS.
Officially the Summer of 2005 will go down in weather history as the warmest summer on record for the Detroit Metropolitan Area with an average temperature of 74.76 (rounded off, 74.8). Straight away, it must be mentioned that the urban heat island in Metro Detroit did help influence by modifying mainly the overnight lows and thus, raise the overall average temperature somewhat. The daytime highs are less influenced by the urban heat island as compared to the overnight lows. Therefore, the summer daytime highs is where a closer examination, further down in this report, will tell more of the story. The Summer of 2005 was the 7th hottest summer on record at Flint with an average temperature of 71.56 (rounded - 71.6). In sharp contrast, it was just last year that the Summer of 2004 took 5th place in Flint's coldest summers with an average temperature of just 66.7)! Farther north across the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Region, this summer was relatively "cooler" with Saginaw barely placing in the 20th position for hottest summers with an average temperature of 70.95 (rounded – 70.9). For a more thorough write up on the summer, see the 2005 Summer Review.
|Summer 2005 Statistics|
|NWS White Lake||70.2||/||2.67||70.8||/||5.85||70.5||/||1.25||70.5||/||9.77|
After one of the cooler springs on record, Mom Nature did a complete about face in June and turned up the heat. Right up front, the first week of June saw temperatures climb into the 80s and 90s and pretty much held there for about two thirds of the month. Interesting, a cool down mid month /15-23rd/ actually saw temperatures average about three degrees below normal. This was a welcome cool down indeed, in a month that still managed to place second for hottest Junes! June's heat is even more impressive when one removes that one relatively cool week. In those three weeks (or two thirds of June), the temperature averaged a big nine degrees above normal (around 78 degrees which is only one degree /1.1/ shy of our all time hottest month, July 1955 with 79.1 degrees. There were a total of nine 90 degree (or better) days during the month. This placed June 2005 in 5th placed for most 90 degree days in the month of June. the most ever recorded for a June was back in 1934 with 13.
Not only was it hot in June, it was also on the dry side. Officially for Detroit, just under two inches /1.95"/ of rain fell with over a quarter of the month's rain /.61"/, falling the last day /30th/. Up until that point, June's total of 1.34" had placed the month in ninth place for driest Junes. The quiet severe weather season of the spring soon became history in June. There were nine thunderstorm days in June, in a month that normally has six and the two most notable severe weather outbreaks occurred on 5th and the 30th. The severe weather on the 5th was widespread as thunderstorms broke out ahead of the front and brought numerous reports of high winds and hail. Strong wind gusts of at least 60 mph uprooted trees, snapped branches and power lines.
The surplus of heat and humidity during July translated to one word, misery, for many people. Up until July 2005, the most thunderstorm days recorded in a single month in Detroit was 14. This occurred infrequently in the past, May 2004, June 1892 and July 1902 (August's stormiest year occurred way back in 1877 with 13 storm days, but this too was approached rather recently in August 2003 when 12 days recorded thunderstorms). While the amount of thunderstorm days in a month hit record proportions, the amount of severe weather events did not (and more about that below).
The 75.4 average temperature for July was high enough to place the month in at 18th place for warmest Julys on record. Six more 90 degree days were totaled up during July and without question, the most miserable day for heat and humidity occurred on the 24th when a strong warm front pushed through early that Sunday morning and brought thunderstorms, then sunny, hot and very humid conditions afterward. Heat indices hovered between 100-110 at its worse.
Also in July, heavier rains were more widespread across Southeast Lower Michigan with most areas seeing above to well above normal monthly amounts. At Detroit, 5.38" of rain fell in July, well over two inches /2.22/ above normal. Coincidently (like the temperature ranking), that rainfall amount of 5.38" placed July 2005 also in 18th place for wettest Julys on record.
As mentioned, while July was a stormy month it wasn't a particularly busy severe weather month. That being said, there were still a couple of notable severe weather events with the strongest occurring late in the month /26th/. As the front approached on the 26th, lines of strong to severe storms blossomed up by midday in the hot and unstable air mass just ahead of the front. Several storms reached severe limits containing hail up to an inch in diameter and strong winds gusting at least 60 mph. In addition, flash flooding occurred over portions of the northern suburbs of Detroit during the morning of the 16th. Flooding was reported across Oakland, Macomb and St Clair counties with some rainfall amounts locally up to five inches in torrential downpours from thunderstorms.
August was another summer month with a surplus of heat and humidity with an average temperature of 74.8. The month of august averaged a comfortable (or uncomfortable in this case) 3 degrees above normal. This made it the 8th warmest August on record, tying with august 1918.
Overall, August was rather typical of late summer weather across Southeast lower Michigan. There was plenty of sunshine and heat along with a lack of rainfall. As with June and July, much of August averaged above normal with the greatest above normal temperature departures early to mid month. By the 20th, the average temperature of the month up to that point, 77 degrees, nearly matched the hottest august on record (set back in the previous hottest summer on record - 1995) when august averaged 77.1.
As stated, rainfall amounts and frequency was rather limited during August, while severe weather outbreaks were non-existent. Hurricane Katrina's meager rainfall (.10 at Metro Airport) was just enough to knock the month out of the top 20 driest Augusts. the 1.33" total that fell in August was just .02" above the 20th driest position /1.31-1999
It was an exceptionally nice and warm autumn across Southeast Lower Michigan with again, like the summer, all three cities ranking in a top 20 warmest list. In addition, heavier rains across East Central Lower Michigan pushed both Flint and Saginaw into the top 20 wettest autumns list. However, the dry spell of the summer continued into the fall across extreme Southeast Lower Michigan, including Detroit (but missed the driest list).
|Autumn 2005 Statistics|
|Flint||5th warmest||52.8||/||9.73||16th wettest|
|Saginaw||8th warmest||52.8||/||10.76||20th wettest|
The weather through much of September was more typical of a summer month and thus, pretty much extended our summer. As it stands, our September average temperature of 68.4 degrees tied for eighth place /1906/ for warmest September. The warm month reached an apex when a few more 90 degree days snuck in at the tail end of this season's heat. The highs of 91/12th and 90/13th brought the number of days of 90s this warm season to 20 (far above average of 12 days). Up through the 26th this September, we ranked in second place for hottest September with 70.1 degrees but then, a late September cool snap put an end to that. Had we kept that second place ranking, it would have been the warmest September since 1881 or 124 years!
Along with the heat, much of the area was dry, dry until late September when a pattern change arrived and heralded in not only cooler weather but soaking rains. Up until that time, however, many areas saw around a half inch or less of rain extending from the last few days of august until the last week or so of September (or nearly a month). At Detroit, only 1.63" fell (or just half /-1.64/ of the normal of 3.27 and not too far removed from the 20th driest September /1.33/). Several other locations, however, had a wetter September with around four inches of rain falling during the month. Here at the NWS, 3.72" of rain fell while at New Baltimore, 4.23" was measured for the month. Also, a plentiful 4.14" was reported in Shelby with 3.93" in Farmington. Further north, both Flint and Saginaw pushed into their top 20 wettest Septembers lists with 5.47" and 5.12", respectively.
A strong cold front surged south across lower Michigan on the 22nd and appropriately bid farewell to summer while announcing Autumn (and ironically, within hours of the official time - 623 pm EDT). as this potent cold front approached the region on the autumnal equinox, widespread severe weather broke out in an area that had not seen severe weather for nearly two months (7/26/5). Numerous thunderstorms, some containing large hail and/or damaging winds, blew through extreme Southeast Lower Michigan just in time for the evening rush hour.
A seasonably chilly air mass encompassed southeast lower Michigan the last few days of September. Widespread lows in the mid 30s to mid 40s occurred the last morning of September along some light patchy frost.
October was a nice but extremely dry fall month across Southeast Lower Michigan. With only a little better than a tenth of an inch /.13/ of rain, October 2005 was the driest October ever recorded in Detroit since 1870. the previous driest October occurred way back in 1892 (or 113 years) with three tenths /.30/ of an inch. one has to travel even further back in time to find a drier month, and it only happened one time, when just .04 fell in February way back in 1877 (or 128 years ago). the previous second driest month was back in February 1969 when just .15 of an inch fell. Things weren't much wetter at the NWS in White Lake where just .35 of an inch of rain fell.
The unseasonably warm weather of September continued right into much of the first half of October, especially the first week. While temperatures averaged 11 degrees above normal that first week, high readings rose into the mid 80s from the 3rd through the 6th. Each one of those days we flirted near record high territory (upper 80s to around 90) but were unable to hit any of them.
A notable shift in the upper air pattern to the northwest much of the second half of the month, brought temperatures down to mainly below normal readings. These colder winds also brought (on schedule) killing frosts and freezes on several days during the latter third of the month.
Indian summer weather made an impressive showing during the first half of November after the frost and freezing temperatures the last week of October. There were plenty of days during the first half of November where temperatures flirted with record highs. First off on the 3rd and 4th, the highs of 71/72 came close to the records (both 75). Then on the 9th and the 12th, high temperatures rose to near 70 with a record high set on the 12th /69/. Even after our late month cold snap, the mercury popped up for one day to 63 degrees and came to within 5 degrees of the record /68/. By mid-month, the average temperature for the month averaged about 8 degrees above the normal and at that time, placing near the top of the warmest Novembers since 1870! The sharply colder weather, however, that arrived late in the month erased that warmth (and record).
The unseasonably warm weather early-mid month helped fuel a series of strong, deep low pressure systems as they moved through the Great Lakes with several days having high winds. The strongest wind day (on average) came early in the month /6th/ as an intense low pressure /pressure 29.15in/ moved through the region. Several locations reported wind gusts between 50 and 60 mph with a 55 mph gust at Detroit. numerous reports of wind damage and power outages along with debris tossed about resulted from the wind. Another powerful storm just A few days later /9th/ brought another round of strong wind gusts mainly between 40 and 50 mph. A third storm by mid-month /15-16th/, again packed damaging wind gusts mainly between 40 and 50 mph. In the end, there were a total of six days (6,9,13,16,24,28) during the month where the wind gusted to around 40 mph or better (with the monthly peak Gust the 55 mph on the 6th).
The extremely dry weather of the fall was eased somewhat by the series of strong storms during the month. The best rain producer blew through on the 15th when nearly two and a third inches /2.30"/ of rain drenched the area. The rain was accompanied by once again, strong gusty winds (near 40 mph),and also thunderstorms. The 2.30" was a record for the date and just second to the record for the wettest day of the month (2.59" on 11/22/09). The final tally of 4.70" of precipitation placed this November in a tie for 7th spot with, ironically, again November of 1909 when 4.70" fell then too.
Light snowfall late in the month again made for a white, not to mention, a bitterly cold Thanksgiving Day. Temperatures hovered mainly in the teens during much of the day and evening as a fresh Arctic blast engulfed the area and froze parade attendees and shoppers alike. It certainly was one Of the coldest Thanksgivings on record for the day into evening hours.
When the calendar switched from November to December, so was there an impressive shift (downward) in the temperature Department! The average temperature for November /43.2/ dropped to an impressive 22.9 degrees the first half of December (on average November's normal is 40.7, while December's is 29.6 degrees). So if you thought winter came on stronger and more abrupt than usual, you were right. In fact, through the 15th that average temperature at Detroit of 22.9 was over nine degrees /9.1/ below the normal of 32.0 for the first 15 days. In addition, that average for the first half of December had put this December in 13th place for coldest since 1870. Only the warmer trend late in the month tempered that cold average and thus, eliminated the coldest December placement. In the end and despite December's mild ending, the average temperature of 25.8 for December was still nearly four degrees /-3.8/ below the monthly normal /29.6/.
The first ten days of the month were exceptionally cold compared to normal never rising above freezing. The average for this 10-day stretch was just over 22 degrees, or about 11 degrees below the normal of 33 for that 10 day stretch. This is even a few degrees colder than our normals in mid-late January with a 24 degree average. In spite of all the cold, no record lows were set but we did come close in knocking down a "century plus" record. A low of 9 on the 6th came within just two degrees of the record, 7, which has held (and still does) since 1885!
Along with the cold, frequent storm systems brought several bouts of snow across the region that piled up to nearly 20" in Detroit with officially, 19.8" for the month. This was high enough to put us in the top 10 snowiest Decembers by tying with 9th place /Dec 1975/. This was the snowiest December since the exceptionally snowy December 2000, when two to three feet of snow blanketed the region. Here atop the "mountain" at the NWS White Lake over two feet /25.8"/ of snow in December.
Two of the biggest snow producers came on the 8th into the 9th, and on the 15th. A strong Ohio Valley Low pushed snow into the region late on the 8th into the 9th. By the time the storm pulled out, it had dumped up to 8" of snow over extreme Southeast Michigan. Then, just a week later on the 15th, another storm center pushed a broad area of 4-6" snowfalls over the region during the day.