Updated August 16th - Drought Diminishing!

Recent heavy rains have eased the ongoing drought across parts of central Lower Michigan, although far southern Lower Michigan is still showing large cumulative rainfall deficits for this year. The outlook for the next 7 days (after rain on Thursday) calls for scattered showers over the weekend. The longer range outlooks through the last week of August
 calls for temperatures returning to near normal and equal chances for below or above normal precipitation.

The drought intensity across the region varies but has been improving gradually, as defined by The United States Drought Monitor Index:

The extreme (D3) and severe (D2) drought designations have been removed for our area, except for St. Joseph and Branch Counties where a severe drought persists.  Recent rains have helped reverse the trend started earlier this summer with prolonged dry spells.  Now many areas are simply designated as "abnormally dry", or D0.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids issues Drought Information Statements to summarize the impacts and forecast. The latest update is from August 16th and the statement will be updated again August 23rd, 2012, or sooner should conditions warrant. 

Summary of impacts
-Many creeks and streams are still running near to below normal flows near and south of Interstate 94 and west of U.S. 131.
-The shallow water levels have led to warmer than normal streamwater temperatures, and this is causing increased concern for unfavorable aquatic habitat for mussels and other macro invertebrates.
-Agricultural impacts are continually being assessed, however economic losses are already being reported for this growing season.
-At the end of July, the Mid Michigan Health Department reported that 40 residential wells went dry in Gratiot County.


Climate summary
The most significant rainfall deficits have been experienced across extreme southern Lower Michigan, mainly from the I-94 corridor toward the south, where rainll is still between 3 and 6 inches below normal.  North of this region, more persistent rains have mitigated the drought situation.  Grand Rapids and Lansing, for example, are only a little over an inch below normal for rainfall this year.

2012 Annual Rainfall through August 16th at 7 am
Location Rainfall since 1/1/12 Departure from Normal
Grand Rapids 21.50 inches -1.38 inches
Lansing 18.36 inches -1.08 inches
Muskegon 19.78 inches  +0.98 inches
Kalamazoo 17.01 inches -4.42 inches
Battle Creek 13.82 inches -5.94 inches
Holland 18.59 inches -2.62 inches
Jackson 17.56 inches -1.61 inches

2012 Summer Rainfall through August 16th at 7 am
Location Rainfall since 6/1/12 Departure from Normal
Grand Rapids 7.35 inches -1.38 inches
Lansing 7.14 inches -0.73 inches
Muskegon 6.90 inches +0.37 inches
Kalamazoo 5.32 inches -3.67 inches
Battle Creek 4.48 inches -3.80 inches
Holland 5.51 inches -3.11 inches
Jackson 7.27 inches -1.30 inches


Below are maps of observed precipitation over the last 60 days ending August 15th at 8am, and percent of normal precipitation over the last 60 days ending August 15th. 



Precipitation/temperature outlook
After rainfall on Thursday, scattered showers are possible over the weekend.  The latest 6 to 10 and 8 to 14 day outlooks give SW Lower Michigan equal chances for above or below normal precipitation.  The likelihood for above normal precipitation increases across SE Lower Michigan.

Hydrologic summary and outlook

River levels have varied across this portion of the state.  Rivers across central Lower Michigan were experiencing near to above normal flows for this time of year thanks to rainfall from August 9 and 10.  However, rivers across western and southwestern portions of Lower Michigan were experiencing near to below normal flows. There had been a gradual but steady fall in river and stream levels over the past several months and this overall trend could continue through September when average flow minimums occur. 

Next issuance date
This story will be updated on or around August 23, 2012, or sooner if necessary in response to significant changes in conditions.

Related web sites
Additional information on current drought conditions may be found at the following web addresses:
U.S. Drought Monitor 
NOAA Drought Page
Climate Prediction Center (CPC) (6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks)
Midwest Regional Climate Center

Michigan State Climate Office -  http://climate.geo.msu.edu/
NWS Grand Rapids - http://www.weather.gov/grandrapids

Additional river information links
National Weather Service
US Geological Survey
US Army Corp of Engineers 
River Flow Information


The drought monitor is a multi-agency effort involving the National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center, the USDA, state and regional center climatologists and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Information for this statement has been gathered from NWS and FAA observation sites, state cooperative extension services, the US Department of Agriculture, US Army Corp of Engineers and US Geological Survey.

Questions or comments...
If you have any questions or comments about this drought information statement, please contact:
National Weather Service
4899 South Complex Drive
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Phone, 616-949-0643



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