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Posted on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 5:56 a.m.

Summer in Ann Arbor is the 4th coldest on record

By David Wak

At Big George's Home Appliance Mart on Ann Arbor's west side, air conditioning units aren't exactly flying off the shelves this summer. Attendance is down at Buhr Park Pool in Ann Arbor, and fewer customers are visiting the Dairy Queen on Packard Street for ice cream cones in recent weeks.

Traditional summertime staples are seeing a downturn this year as temperatures rarely top 80 degrees.

Just how cool has it been? We're at the tail end of the fourth coldest summer recorded in Ann Arbor since 1880, University of Michigan meteorologist Dennis Kahlbaum said.  


The average temperature for June was down 0.8 degrees; average temps were down 4.6 degrees in July, according to National Weather Service data.

Kahlbaum cited two possible explanations for the cooler temps. Some scientists believe El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is the cause, he said - a view shared by U-M's Dr. Frank Marsik and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Marsik said El Nino has caused the jet stream to dip lower than usual over the eastern United States, which allows cool Canadian air to dominate. Conversely, the upper dip of the jet stream has gone way up on the west coast, causing unusually high temps in the Pacific Northwest this summer.

Rob Deedler with the National Weather Service offered a different reason, saying the North Atlantic Oscillation is the cause. NAO is a weather trough that hovers over eastern Canada. When it's a negative NAO, as Deedler says it is this year, that allows cooler Canadian air to flow into the eastern U.S. When the NAO is positive, above average temperatures generally occur.

"What it boils down to is the position of the jet stream," Kahlbaum said.

The cooler months have had a varying impact on businesses whose peak season is summer.

Attendance at the Buhr Park Pool in Ann Arbor is "indeed down," said Gail LaVictoire, facility supervisor. On exceptionally rainy or cool days, the city doesn't even open the pool. The benefit is less payroll expense for lifeguards, which saves the city money, LaVictoire said.

Fuller Pool, on the other hand, stays open all summer, rain or shine. Facility supervisor Dan McGuire said traffic has been steady for lap swimmers, but low for families.


Walt Korican, a longtime salesman at Big George's Home Appliance Mart, said the cooler temperatures have hurt air conditioner sales. While apartment-sized units have been selling reasonably well, he said sales of window models are way down. Korican attributes much of the slump to this summer's weather, but said newer homes with central air have also taken a bite out of sales.

Derek Wagoner, who works at the Dairy Queen on Packard Street, said cool weather has slowed business somewhat. He said sales were better in June when the weather first warmed up, and also noted part of the recent slowdown could be due to the approaching school year.

"Right now it's been slow," he said.

Despite the weather, the boating business appears to be faring well this summer. Jay Preston of Nicholson's Powersports in Scio Township, which sells wave runners, said business is steady. Tammy Hoak of Wilson Marine in Brighton agreed, but added her company does a lot of out-of-state business, where the weather and the bad economy aren't such factors.

"Actually, (the weather) hasn't affected anything," Hoak said.

It's been a mixed bag for gardeners this summer.

Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor, said the weather has been excellent for the gardening business. Cooler temperatures have encouraged more gardening, he said. On the downside, the weather has delayed the ripening of some vegetables, namely tomatoes, which are a month behind schedule, he said.

"It's a slow year for tomatoes," Hodesh said. "Lots of them on the vine still, not turning red."

So what does the cool summer portend for the coming winter? If it's any consolation, meteorologists who believe the Atlantic Ocean is responsible for this summer's weather predict a wet but mild winter.

Photos by Lon Horwedel, Fuller Park Pool lifeguards Shannon Martin, left, and Melissah Lang bundle up in parkas as they watch over lap swimmers at the pool Sunday.

David Wak is a freelance writer for Reach our news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Mon, Sep 7, 2009 : 12:41 p.m.

I like this writer's style. Builds the story nicely with out an excess or indulgence of words. Interesting the side reaction to the "global warming/climate change" debate. I am always amazed at how territorial people get when they aren't ready to learn something new. Reminds me of the frenzy of ridicule around the womens movement in the 70's. The raising of consciousness is painful if the mind is rigid with self interest.

Ann English

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 6:12 p.m.

I've been wondering about this, since there were no volcanic eruptions to cause this, like Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Jon Saalberg

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

Best summer I've ever experienced, temperature-wise. I'm with the "nothing above 80 degrees" crowd. You want blistering heat, move to the desert.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 4:36 p.m.

It is great to learn that Ann Arbor is exempt from global warming.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 2:42 p.m.

Normally I'd be thrilled with a cool summer. But I just put in a pool this year. Brrrr.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:53 p.m.

Pay no attention to Moto. S/he hates bikes racks, too. "Taking legit parking spaces for cars and motorcycles and putting bike racks in them... In the street??? Insane! What a horrible idea... It shows how a special interest group can over-rule, not only common sense but the legit needs of the people in A2." I like it hot...the hotter the makes me forget how cold it's going to get.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 1:11 p.m.

Global Warming is a POWER & to a lesser extent... A money grab. 100% sham. The earth is cooling & you can tell actor, Noah Wylie & Co., that not only do polar bears swim in upwards of 20 miles OUT TO ice flows but the actual ice itself expands and contracts apprx. 33 % every year so it depends when & how you word the claim that it's contracting/shrinking... "Green" fad aside... Wake UP People! Be a good steward but really... Global Warming or Global Governance? If you were to ask ten people on the street if mankind was causing global warming, at least eight out of ten would say yes. After all, Al Gores Inconvenient Truth provides incontrovertible evidence that this is the case. Yet, contrary to what is heard in the media, there is overwhelming evidence that the warming we are experiencing is natural, with maybe a small amount contributed by mans activities. Nor is there any scientific consensus. The debate is still raging within the scientific community. Sovereignty International has put together interviews of climate scientists and biologists from numerous sources who explain, step by step, why Al Gore and the global warming alarmists are incorrect. In some cases, blatantly so. It also provides evidence that the global warming agenda is being funded with tens of billions of dollars as a mechanism to create global governance. Hear from congressmen, experts and even well-known news broadcasters how global governance puts global institutions that are not accountable to the American people in control of every aspect of our economy. The U.S. government is very close to making this a reality. Very close. Every American, every citizen of the world, needs to hear the other side of the global warming story.

Laura Bien

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 12:30 p.m.

Nice reporting on this story--a good range of folks whose opinion is relevant to the subject.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 10:34 a.m.

"If it's any consolation, meteorologists who believe the Atlantic Ocean is responsible for this summer's weather predict a wet but mild winter." Like last winter. Which resulted in near-record pothole and orange cone sightings. It was great for building snowmen and sledding, though!


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.

It's been an absolutely lovely summer, temperature wise. It was mostly July that was off. August is supposed to have temps in the 70s. It's funny that it seems like it was really wet, but it hasn't been. It was really wet in the spring, but it looks like we've been sticking to the average otherwise. Our garden's very happy!... And they changed the name to "climate change" because scientists realized there were many people who couldn't figure out that the predictions are for more variable weather, with a long-term warming trend. Unusually cool weather in one part of the US, while other parts of the world are experiencing unusually warm temperatures, fits the forecasts. You can make your own map of global temperature anomaly at For example, if you choose "Anomalies" for "July", you can see that the middle of the US and part of South America were quite a bit cooler than normal, but the US West Coast, Alaska, many other places, and particularly part of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean were warmer than normal.

Raggety Andy

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 10:24 a.m.

It's called "Climate Change" and yes, a vast majority of respected scientists do indeed believe that it is occurring. Ignorance must truly be bliss...

Eric J. Klooster

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 10:18 a.m.

This is just a pet peeve of mine, but whenever a report is made about the "Nth" item on record, I always am curious about the "1st through (N-1)th" items. E.G. 4th coldest? I wonder what the 1st through 3rd coldest were. Even if it's just the 1st, that'd be great.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:57 a.m.

trutoblu-Do you mean the 'there's no global warming' "gang" consisting of the majority of scientists who have studied global warming and have pretty much poo pooed it, as opposed to the 'global warming' gang consisting of the politician (not scientist) Al (makes money on false pretenses and furthers his political career) Gore? Is that the gang you're talking about?


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:53 a.m.

Your not supposed to mention "Global Warming" until it's hot.

Kirk Schneemann

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:20 a.m.

Must be global warming!


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 9:13 a.m.

Great story, it answered a lot of questions about this summer, which has been comfortable and enjoyable. But while we're fixing mistakes, how about the "lot's of them on the vine" quote by Mark Hodesh?


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 8:42 a.m.

One of the first lessons in journalism. Make sure you have the proper spelling of the person you interview. It's Korican not Corican


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 8:10 a.m.

I really like the cooler summer too. Nice for walks!

Dan Romanchik

Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 7:49 a.m.

I would have preferred it to be a little warmer, but I'm not complaining. This is certainly way better than being too hot.


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 7:45 a.m.

Did Hoak say "effected" when he meant "affected"?


Mon, Aug 31, 2009 : 6:27 a.m.

I'm one of those who prefer temps below about 85 degrees. So this has been a great summer for me. I like the outdoors and, honestly, I don't like the heat & humidity (or the greater bug problems that brings). If not for the fact that cooler summers like this one encourage the "there's no global warming" gang, I'd say this is just fine with me. OTH - a friend who lives near LA tells me they haven't had rain in months and temps are averaging about 100 degrees. Terminology: Meteorologic terminology should be made more rational: "El Nino" - describes nothing and isn't even understandable to non-Spanish speakers. I'll take "North Atlantic Oscillation" over "El Nino" any day.