West Michigan Likely to Mark Warmest Year on Record

Posted at 9:58 AM, Dec 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-14 09:58:35-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A mild winter.  Record early spring warmth.  A hot summer with triple-digit temperatures.  A lack of cold air to end the year.  You may have already guessed how these individual pieces add up — the warmest year on record in Grand Rapids and the rest of West Michigan.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist William Marino, the average temperature for Grand Rapids for 2012 through December 13 sits at 54.0°, 0.3° above the record for the year to date.  Marino says Muskegon and Lansing have experienced similar record conditions as well.

The all-time record for the warmest average temperature over the course of an entire calendar year is 52.4° in 1921.  This means that it would have to turn unusually cold for the rest of the year in order to NOT break the record.  Instead, temperatures appear to stay above average for at least the next week.

The idea of the warmest year on record makes sense when we look at some of the notable weather trends of 2012.  While January started the year with 27 inches of snow in Grand Rapids, temperatures ran 5.3° above average, hitting the 50s on three separate occasions.  Overnight temperatures never dropped below zero, and only reached the single digits on four nights.  February was similarly mild, with only two days in which temperatures did not manage to get above 32°.

Record heat characterized March, with a nine-day run in the 70s and 80s causing fruit crops around West Michigan to blossom early, eventually leading to devastating losses for growers when freezes followed later in the spring.

Grand Rapids started seeing highs of 90° or higher twice even in May, with precipitation below normal into the summer.  The dry weather only made the heat more pronounced, and led to temperatures in July that reached the triple digits for the first time since 1988.  The U.S. Drought Monitor placed most of West Michigan in “severe drought” status, with areas near the Indiana border reaching “extreme drought.”

Overall, there were 32 days during 2012 with highs of 90° or above; the average is about nine days.  On the contrary, there have been no days this year with low temperatures that dropped below zero.

Fall was fairly close to average around the area, but the first half of December has, once again, seen temperatures well above average.

You can check out the 7 Day Forecast on the Weather page.

Photo courtesy: Marv Flowers, Paw Paw – July 2012