Cool temps, minimal sunshine impacting water temps

Weather

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Chances are if you’ve ventured to the beach lately, you haven’t jumped into Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan water temperatures are lagging behind average due to the cool temperatures and minimal sunshine so far this year.

Let’s begin with sunshine — or lack thereof. Every month this year sunshine has been below average.

Below average sunshine has been recorded each month this year.

February and May really stood out in terms of lack of sun. But it’s May that the warming process was thwarted by the lack of sunshine.

Clouds ruled the sky two-thirds of the days in May with only 36% total sunshine. It was a whopping 20% below average and contributed to the third cloudiest May on record.

So far, June isn’t running far behind, with an 18% deficit. Not only has every month this year been cloudier than average, but that trend has been unbroken for a solid year.

Naturally, the lack of sun has resulted in cooler temperatures. Spring ended nearly two degrees below average and so far June is 3.1 degrees below average.

The lack of warm temperatures has been remarkable this year. Only three times have we hit 80 degrees, tying 1947 as the only years to achieve that leading up to the summer solstice.

1947 ties record fewest 80 degree days prior to the summer solstice.

Additionally, the warmest temperature this entire year to date is 82 degrees, making it the coolest high temperature that we have ever had prior to the solstice.

It's been a cool start to 2019

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the abnormally cool temperatures and minimal sunshine has had an impact on water temperatures across the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan.

Water temps across Lake Michigan and Huron.

Bill’s Blog indicates that last year during Father’s Day, water temperatures were as warm as 75 degrees at the beach in Saugatuck, while this year it was only 60 degrees. Not only are lakeshore temperatures cooler than average but Lake Michigan as a whole is running cooler than it has in years. As of June 18, the average water temperature of Lake Michigan is 48.4 degrees.

Current (June 19) Lake Michigan water temps vs average

Last year it was more than 10 degrees warmer. We’ve been colder than the previous six years:

  • 2018: 58.5 degrees
  • 2017: 59.4 degrees
  • 2016: 60.4 degrees
  • 2015: 51.8 degrees
  • 2014: 50.5 degrees
  • 2013: 54.3 degrees

Hopefully we can close the gap in the coming weeks. Consistently warmer temperatures are in the forecast.

Warmer high temperatures are on the horizon

This will also be the case leading up to the Fourth of July as well.

Warmer temperatures should spill over into the beginning of July.

If the forecast is correct, hopefully we’ll see a lot more people enjoying the beach and swimming in the water in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to check out the latest Beach and Boat Report from Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Ellen Bacca and Emily Schuitema.

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