July 2012 was one for the record books. The worst heat wave in decades struck Southwest Lower Michigan during the first week of the month as the thermometer rose to levels not reached in some locations since record keeping began in the mid to late 1800s. A potent area of high pressure became entrenched across the Midwest, helping to prolong the very dry conditions across the area which ultimately led to a drought situation. High temperatures soared into the 100s, with even some locations near Lake Michigan remarkably reaching the upper 90s to low 100s as well. A new all-time record of 103 degrees was reached at Lansing on the 6th and Muskegon tied their all-time record of 99 on the 6th as well. Grand Rapids recorded the 3rd highest temperature ever with 104 degrees on the 6th.
The second and third weeks of the month were not as hot as the first, but nevertheless 90s were commonplace. It became readily apparent that this July was going to rank at or near the top in terms of overall average temperature. Grand Rapids never dipped below 60 degrees for a low temperature, the first time that has ever happened. The final week of the month offered more pleasant temperatures in the upper 80s and near 90, but ultimately the month ended with record numbers. Lansing and Muskegon both recorded their warmest July ever, with Grand Rapids coming in at number two. In addition, Grand Rapids and Muskegon both set new records for the average maximum temperature readings of 91.1 and 88.0, respectively.
Drought conditions worsened during the middle of the month as some areas received little to no rainfall during the previous four weeks or so. Scattered thunderstorms during the second half of the month provided some local relief, but did not wipe out the overall drought by any means. A squall line of strong to severe thunderstorms pressed through the region on the 31st, knocking down plenty of trees and taking out power to thousands with prolific lightning. Otherwise, few severe weather reports were observed during the month.
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