Rain to linger in Metro Detroit

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Rain showers Thursday dumped nearly a month’s worth of rain over Metro Detroit, shutting down freeways and submerging vehicles in water up to their headlights. And the wet weather is not over yet.

“Yesterday’s 24-hour total (of rain) was a record for the date — 2.87 inches — and the bulk of it fell around rush hour in the morning as you know,” said Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in White Lake Township. “The normal amount for the whole month through Sept. 29 is 3.17 inches. So, we got almost a month’s worth of rain in one day.”

On Friday, the Metro area wasn’t able to dry off. More rain fell throughout the day and a flood watch for much of southeast Michigan continued until 8 p.m. as rivers in the area topped their flood stages. Despite that, the area continues to clean up after the mess Thursday’s rain left behind.

By 8 a.m. Friday, the 48-hour total of rain in the area reached 3.47 inches, according to the agency’s measurements taken at Detroit Metro Airport, the site it uses for its official records.

However, the area around Detroit City Airport was hit a lot harder. The 48-hour rainfall total there was 5.2 inches, Tilley said.

“The bulk fell in a four-hour period around rush hour Thursday morning,” he said. “They were right in the bull’s eye of the maximum.”

The rainfall that began Thursday and continued through Friday will likely land this September in the top 5 wettest Septembers on record, Tilley said.

By 5 p.m. Friday, a tenth of an inch of rain had fallen, according to measurements taken at Detroit Metro, Tilley said, putting its total for the month at about six inches.

In the wettest September in Michigan, 7.52 inches of rain fell during the month in 1986, followed by 6.71 inches in 2000, 6.5 inches in 1902, 6.28 in 2011 and 6.24 in 1879, according to the weather service. The agency’s records for precipitation in the Detroit area go back to November 1874.

Rich Pollman, a meteorologist with the weather service, said it doesn’t look like the rain is going to let up anytime soon.

An “upper-level storm system” is parked over the Ohio Valley, he said. That system won’t be moving on until later Sunday.

On Saturday, there’s a 60 percent chance of showers, but heavy rain is not expected, Pollman said.

Temperatures are expected to reach highs in the upper 60s, and the lows could reach about 55 degrees.

Meanwhile, work crews for the city of Detroit on Friday continued cleaning up.

Bryan Peckinpaugh, a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department said DWSD had more than 20 crews following up Friday on flooding reports and clogged catch basins.

“City crews have worked at more than 320 locations in the past two days to reduce the flooding impact,” he said in an email.

On Thursday, drivers became stranded as water covered roadways during morning and evening rush hours.

Some of the worst flooding was on northbound Lodge near Cobo Center in Detroit after nearly 12 feet of water flooded the freeway under an overpass.

Michigan State Police officials said troopers rescued three drivers from the flood in that area.

Diane Cross, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said Friday the agency would be keeping an eye on the weather and the freeways this weekend.

Flooding on low-lying freeways was possible, she said, but it depends on how much rain falls and if the already-soaked ground is unable to absorb it.

(313) 223-4616

Twitter: @HollyPFournier

Extended forecast

Friday: Periods of showers, with thunderstorms possible after 8 a.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 61. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent.

Friday night: Periods of showers. Low around 54. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.

Saturday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Cloudy, with a high near 66. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Saturday night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.

Sunday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a high near 65. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53.

Monday: Partly sunny, with a high near 67.

Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 51.