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Posted on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

2011 is the wettest year on record in Ann Arbor area

By Cindy Heflin


Heavy spring and summer rains helped contribute to a record-setting year for precipitation in Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

The year still has almost four weeks left in it, but it’s already the wettest in history in the Ann Arbor area.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, Ann Arbor had received 48.59 inches of precipitation in 2011, said University of Michigan weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum.

That’s 4.83 inches more than the total received in 2006, the second wettest year in history, according to records kept since 1880. Average annual precipitation in the Ann Arbor area is 37.55 inches.

With December bringing in an average of 2.5 inches of precipitation for the month, we could end the year with 6 or more inches above the previous record.

The total was surprising even to Kahlbaum, who monitors rain and snowfall daily, and has a better idea than most about whether the weather has been setting records.

The reason for all this sogginess? A confluence of weather patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic.

“You can’t blame it on global warming,” he said. “It’s just that the storm patterns have been such that they have very frequently passed by.”

He noted that we had very heavy rains in the spring and early summer, which laid the groundwork for a wet year over all. Then wet weather returned for the fall.

Last month was the second wettest November on record with 5.74 inches, Kahlbaum said. The record holder for November is 1982, when 5.86 inches of precipitation fell. Ann Arbor also had the fifth wettest September on record this year.

Detroit is also approaching a record wet year with 45.29 inches so far, National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Kook said. The record is 47.69 in 1880.

As for the immediate future, Ann Arbor area residents can expect the rain to continue Monday afternoon, then possibly mix with snow after 5 p.m. Overnight more snow is possible with new snow accumulation of about an inch.

Skies will clear Tuesday with a high near 36. Wednesday and Thursday will be dry, but a chance of snow showers returns Thursday night.

For updated forecasts and conditions anytime, check's weather page.



Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Is this an omen of things yet to come? If I remember correctly? They might be. I did enjoy the wintry mix Monday nite. O how fun it was.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 3:08 a.m.

Q: Do you know what makes it so rainy outside? A: The rain.

Tom Todd

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

We needed more of a gentle soaking in July, my grass looked awful.

Jim Burdelski

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Send some rain to Santa Fe. But it is snowing today.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

I can vouch for this incredibly wet year. The pond behind our house came about 50 feet into our yard and stayed there for weeks. We had bullfrogs throughout our yard and so many other frogs that I couldn't count them all. Eleven of the 13 dahlias that I planted just rotted in the wet soil.

Sam McDermott

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

"You can't blame it on global warming," he said. "It's just that the storm patterns have been such that they have very frequently passed by." Wait - but what's causing the storm patterns to behave differently now?


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

The "Hoax" is the cause. There are a bunch of hippies in the Pacific and Atlantic churning up the storm patterns, all in an attempt to bring down capitalism.


Tue, Dec 6, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

Yeah, that was my thought. Climatologists are very careful to say it's problematic to blame any one storm on climate change - it's just like loading the dice a bit more each year. So we hit a season that sure looks like a loaded set of dice, but Mr. Kahlbaum *knows* this has nothing to do with climate change? Because the storm patterns have just happened to hit us, and Chicago, and the rest of the upper midwest with a lot of rain this year. Looks like a loaded set of dice to me. And we're 250 cooling degree days up for the year, and 250 heating degree days down since mid-year. Looks a lot like the warmer, wetter world we're being warned about. Not to say we're suddenly moving to 50 years in the future, but rather, if you wonder what might seem more normal 50 years from now, take a look around.


Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Man, I sure wish it would hurry up and turn into snow!