GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Lawns are getting patchy and brown due to lack of water, with threats of drought looming — all after the wettest start to the year on record.
The year 2023 began with a surplus of storms. West Michigan saw one major precipitation system each week from January through the end of March, typically delivering rain and snow on the weekend.
In April, the trend flipped from too wet to overly dry. In fact, the flip in the forecast was so substantial that West Michigan transitioned quickly into the driest on record.
The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids was the first to find this fact, stating in Friday’s forecast discussion that the period from January 1 to April 5 “was the wettest on record at (Grand Rapids) for that stretch by almost 1.5 (inches).” In contrast, the period from April 6 through June 1 “has been the driest on the record by more than 0.5 (inches).”
While conditions since April 6 haven’t been completely rain-free, the amount that has fallen has been exceptionally low. In fact, Grand Rapids is on track to claim the title for one of the driest stretches on record for days in a row, with less than 0.05 inches of rain.
As a result, the first stage of drought has begun to crop up in parts of Michigan. Several counties were added to the preliminary drought stage, “Abnormally Dry,” in the latest drought monitor release.
“The Drought Monitor is a joint effort of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center,” said local hydrologist Andrew Dixon with the National Weather Service. “They consider numerous factors including precipitation, streamflow, shallow and deep soil moisture, vegetation stress and evapotranspiration rates.”
With very little rain on the horizon for at least the next week, it is highly likely more will be added to the “Abnormally Dry” category in the coming week.