Spring 2021 could rank within top five driest


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A wet April day usually springs to mind the popular proverb, “April showers bring May flowers.” Fortunately, the flowers are still blooming despite the scarcity of showers this spring.

The first two months of spring have run a precipitation deficit and May is following in hot pursuit. Here’s the spring tally so far: March with -0.86 inches, April with -1.44 inches and so far through May 10 at -0.80 inches. The spring deficit continues to expand here and throughout the region.

The 30 day rainfall is hovering around 50% of normal for most metro areas of southwest Michigan.

The only month this calendar year that has been above average is February and not by much, +0.05″. This has lead to a substantial precipitation deficit. As of May 10, the 2021 deficit stands at -4.16 inches for Kalamazoo, -5.19 inches for Grand Rapids and nearly a half for Muskegon at -5.78 inches. Bill Marino from the National Weather Service put some perspective on these numbers.

He mentioned not only has Grand Rapids had its driest start to a calendar year in 20 years, but Muskegon has also eclipsed theirs by over 30 years.

So far, here are the top three driest springs, which includes March, April and May:

  1. 1936: 3.72 inches
  2. 2005: 4.22 inches
  3. 1987: 4.49 inches

As the first graphic indicates, we are currently in second place at 3.95 inches with two-thirds of a month to go. According to Bill Marino, if we receive less than an inch of rain for the remainder of the month, we will fall within the top five driest springs. This is entirely conceivable considering how dry the pattern continues to look. No chances are greater than 30% through the weekend and 50% or less in the next 10 days.

Here is the European model rainfall forecast through the next 10 days — only 0.05 inches up to May 21.

The high res GFS is even more anemic with a big goose egg.

Of course, there are repercussions for the lack of rainfall. The obvious is dryness. Nearly all of Lower Michigan is in a moderate drought.

Below is a breakdown of what a moderate drought consists of.

For most of us, it just means watering the lawn, garden and flowers more often. Most municipalities receive their water from Lake Michigan so I don’t foresee water restrictions any time soon. Speaking of Lake Michigan, one good aspect of the lack of precipitation is the downward trend in lake levels. Lake Michigan/Huron is down 15 inches since a year ago. The Grand River is flowing at 2.54 cubic feet per second which is 8 times less than in 2018.

A secondary precaution is that the fire threat remains high to very high throughout much of Lower Michigan. Something to be cognizant of as many of us are getting rid of yard debris and some families are opening up their cottages and cabins.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get the sprinklers out of hibernation. Hopefully, this lack of water means fewer mosquitos this year.

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