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Posted on Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Ann Arbor's 4th wettest year on record results in higher Huron River levels

By Amy Biolchini


People float along the Huron River late Wednesday afternoon. The water-level of the river recently has risen due to heavy rainfall so far this year.

Courtney Sacco |

Heavy rains in June have helped make 2013 the fourth wettest year on record for Ann Arbor, so far that is.

The rainfall has pushed the Huron River to higher-than-normal volumes this summer, according to stream gauge data.

“(The river is) high, but I wouldn’t say it’s extremely high,” said Laura Rubin, executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council. “The rains have been solid and have produced heavy flow in the river.”

Average daily stream flow in the river is about 300 cubic feet per second in June and July.

Storms in mid-June saw daily flow rates spike upwards of 1,000 cubic feet per second — but nothing that topped the June 27 storm in which the river's flow rate surged to more than 2,000 cubic feet per second.


The Argo Cascades on Wednesday afternoon.

Courtney Sacco |

The surface of the river saw a rise of about 2.5 feet at the Wall Street observation point during the June 27 storm, which caused massive flooding throughout Ann Arbor.

The June 27 storm saw about 2.54 inches of rainfall in Ann Arbor in less than an hour.

As of July 3, the Huron River's daily flow rate had fallen from the 2,000 cubic feet per second spike to about 700 cubic feet per second -- the lowest the volume has been since the June 27 storm.

The City of Ann Arbor's canoe liveries monitor the stream's flow closely. When it reaches 600 cubic feet per second, the liveries begin to restrict canoeing and kayaking based on skill level and age.

The drought that plagued the Ann Arbor area last summer will mean that groundwater aquifers are in need of water to recharge, Rubin said.

“We’re going to start to see more of these kinds of storms: High in intensity with short bursts of rain,” Rubin said. “With the changing climate, the trends out of the NOAA are that we’ll have shorter, more intense rain events and longer, more intense droughts.”

A total of 6.78 inches of rain fell in June — almost double the typical amount of precipitation, according to figures provided by Dennis Kahlbaum, a U-M weather observer, indicated. The month ranks as the sixth-wettest June on record for Ann Arbor.

The average temperature in June was 68.9 degrees, which is about normal.

Between January and June of this year, there has been 23.10 inches of rainfall, making this year's first six-month period the fourth-wettest on record.

The wettest year on record was 2011, when 24.94 inches of precipitation fell in the corresponding six-month time period. The driest year on record was 1958, when 6.97 inches of precipitation fell in the first six months of the year.

Huron River gauge data from June 2013 to present:


Flow rates for the Huron River, recorded at Wall Street in Ann Arbor. The yellow markings indicate the median.

Courtesy USGS

Huron River gauge data from January 2013 to present:


Flow rates for the Huron River, recorded at Wall Street in Ann Arbor. The yellow markings indicate the median.

Courtesy of USGS

Huron River gauge data from July 2009 to present:


Flow rates for the Huron River, recorded at Wall Street in Ann Arbor. The yellow markings indicate the median.

Courtesy of USGS

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

I don't care what they say. I'm still working on my ark.

Stan Hyne

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

First I believe in climate change. There is melting going on in arctic perma frost which is exposing mammoths etc. What I believe is the biggest factor is the removal of all the vegetation from the land. The woods are gone with their slowing of the runoff, the protecting of the ground from the sun and the slow moisture returned thru the leaves. Now we have pavements, plowed fields, and roof tops. This eliminates the moderating effect of a unpopulated world.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Anything is better then what we had last year. This is great summer weather. Not too hot, not too cold. Although it wasn't great last week but I'll take it. But it is making me yearn for hot cider and pumpkin pie. Sigh. Can't win.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

The article states: "When it (the flow of the river) reaches 600 cubic feet per second, the liveries begin to restrict canoeing and kayaking based on skill level and age." And snapshot asks: "Who determines skill level? Based upon what?" Good question. I wonder if anyone associated with the City's liveries is an ACA (American Canoe Association)-accredited instructor, or has ever received any training from an ACA-accredited instructor. My sense is that these positions are classic "Summer Jobs," typically filled by kids on break. Can you ask, Amy? The head of the Parks Dept decided that the grandiosely-named "Argo Cascades," (which flow at 60 CFS, one-tenth the volume of the main Huron), is "too difficult" for the City's canoes. The City's problem could be solved by providing accredited instruction as one of the services it offers to the public.

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Yep, can't ever write anything about the weather without the obligatory mention of global warming - "Rubin said. "With the changing climate" What tripe.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

"We're going to start to see more of these kinds of storms: High in intensity with short bursts of rain," Rubin said. "With the changing climate, the trends out of the NOAA are that we'll have shorter, more intense rain events and longer, more intense droughts." Yada yada yada climate change yada yada yada. The earth has been changing since it was born! My mother-in-law talks about a storm in the 60's that flooded a neighborhood near Maple and Miller. There is nothing new under the sun.

Tim Hornton

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

LOL Clown, "scientists" also taught less then 80 years ago that humans (especially blacks) were less evolved then other humans and the social darwinism racism inspired a certain German to kill 6 million "less evolved" Jews. Thousands of PhD's with real science degrees argue that climate change is not man made, does not exist, and posses no risk (31,0000 in a documented petition). Again Hawaii has the same beach front it did 100 years ago! The oceans are not creeping up on us. Nobody in New York City is moving out. The Al Gore types are screaming louder and louder but their position is subjective. All the "squeestistics" data in the scholarly journals mean a whole lot of nothing. The low-lying Pacific corall atolls was one of the 35 Lies found in Gore's movie too (there has been to this day no mass evacuation there). Dynamiting of reefs there has caused the damage. Only the simple will get caught up in the emotions played with "climate change".


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

TH: who's name-calling now?


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

3% of Climate scientists agree with you. "We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. ... Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. ... Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. ... Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research." But, I am sure the commentators on the TV know more about it than "scientists".

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Yes, the climate has changed a lot in the past 10 years. But has it changed a lot in the past 50 years or 100 years? Probably not. If so, caused by what? The jury is still out. Some see what they want to see and what they are funded to see.

Tim Hornton

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

True but eco freaks need something or better yet Someone to point their fingers at anytime nature does anything crazy. Just look at the hate and "I told you so" when Sandy happened. Now were having a colder then average June but somehow that is global warming or climate change or whatever the new fad name is for it. When in doubt on something to blame just blame Obama, George Bush, or climate change, you can't go wrong.... Never!


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 7:17 a.m.

Too much rain? How do you thing the "Great lakes" came into being? Who determines skill level? Based upon what? The biggest problem I've found with the "Cascades" are kids and mothers floating in the pools creating traffic issues.


Sat, Jul 6, 2013 : 3 p.m.

I don't know why you pick on kids and mothers. There are plenty of "beached whale" men floating on what look like miniature rafts, given their size.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

"How do you thing the "Great lakes" came into being?" Plate tectonics and glaciation.

Chip Reed

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

The second photo is of the Argo millrace, not exactly the river... And while we are at it, "the new canoe canal" has a nicer ring to it than "argo cascades".

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

You're right Chip. The caption has been corrected.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

@ Skyjockey43, re: "Can anyone please tell me what is the ecological benefit of these flying spawns of Satan???" David Quammen catapulted himself into the outdoor/naturalist journalist world 30-plus years ago with a piece (in Outside Magazine, I believe) titled, "Sympathy For The Devil." I haven't re-read it in 30 years, but, as I recall, his thesis was that if not for the mosquito, tropical rainforests would long since have been history. The mosquito, and the amazing array of diseases that it is so good at spreading, has consistently posed the biggest barrier to the White Man's intrusions and inevitable destructions. So, thanks to the mosquito, the rainforests, the most diverse ecosystems in the world, survive today. You and Quammen obviously shared one part of his love/hate relationship, as underscored by your shared Satanic view of these accursed creatures. Can you now go so far as to embrace his "Sympathy For The Devil" stance? Yeah, me neither.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

Have you forgotten Walter Reed, of the US Army who did a lot to conquer them when America built the Panama Canal 100 years ago. Draining ponds stops them. Then DDT in the 1940s finishes the job. It is proven that banning DDT has killed more third world peoples, not "evil" white people, by allowing this evil insect to spread disease. Oh, so silly.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 5:40 a.m.

Interesting post hsmp. But now I have a continuous loop of the Rolling Stones playing in my head while swatting the little bloodsuckers


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

And along with the rain comes the biblical size plague of mosquitoes to drain every last drop of my blood just because they can. Can anyone please tell me what is the ecological benefit of these flying spawns of Satan???


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

DD told me that the zombie apocalypse will be created by mosquitoes. Those nasty buggers do carry malaria and west nile. Interesting thought.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

They feed frogs, my mother would say. I feed them Black Flag.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

There is a significant trend in rain in the Midwest and Northeast falling more in heavier downpours and less in light drizzles. This has been going on since the 1950's. This is not "cycles", this is a change in long-term patterns. "Cycles" is often the response of people who don't understand the science of climate change. See for example:

G. Orwell

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

@clown Ocean levels go up and they go down. Even if all the ice sheets melt, it will not cause 20 feet rises in the ocean levels like Al Gore predicts (scare tactic). If you know anything about ice sheets, most of the ice is ALREADY under water. That is why the term, "tip of the iceberg" is used. Furthermore, water is more dense than ice. Therefore, even if the ice sheets melt, volume will decrease. Two facts above will lead to a slight increase in sea levels if ever all the ice sheets around the world melt. Which will never happen as long as the sun does not heat up significantly. It is the fluctuation in the sun that drives climate. The single largest factor.


Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Sources, Tim? Since 1992, new methods of satellite altimetry (the measurement of elevation or altitude) indicate a rate of rise of 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) per year. --- Kiribati is about halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is made up of 32 low-lying atolls and one raised island. Most of its population has already moved to one island, Tarawam, after the rest of their land disappeared beneath the ocean. Villagers on Abaiang, one of the Kiribati Islands, had to relocate the entire village of Tebunginako because of rising seas and erosion.

Tim Hornton

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

You sound a little pompous and condescending. Perhaps they don't understand the "science" because there is no real science to back it up. People are starting to see a what joke the whole climate change jargon is and as usual belittling and name calling are the result attacks on people who "don't understand". Our Oceans are the same levels they were a 100 years ago. Miami, L.A., San Diego, ect all have the same beaches Bro. The facts and data are in, they just don't support the hysteria desired by the over zealous "understanding" crowd.

G. Orwell

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

@Epengar It looks pretty CYCLICAL to me. Vostock Ice Core Samples dating back 450,000 years.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Yeah, a bit high, but nothing special. I drove over the bridge at Delhi today to check it out, and was a bit disappointed -- it looked OK, but nothing that would especially attract whitewater paddlers. I love those March/April levels, and it's fabulous when we get them in June/July! Still, I'll probably get out there at some point this weekend.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

The last chart, on the bottom says it all: cycles. A wetter cycle is here. Many benefits to that, aside from some urban flooding issues.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Jul 5, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Exactly why I put that chart of Huron River flow rates in the story. The river level rises and falls throughout the year, and and seems to cycle through wet years and dry years.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Amy, Thank you. This is valuable information. I searched all over for rain totals for June, assuming they were quite high, and couldn't find them. Thanks very much. The folks in rural areas with wells are happy about this rain, I know. And being a gardener, I'm glad too! Cash