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Warmer, wetter than average winter ahead for Michigan, NOAA predicts

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

Michigan and the Great Lakes region is expected to have a warmer but wetter than average winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Southeast Michigan is predicted to have an almost 50% chance of above-normal temperatures in some areas, according to NOAA's 2021 Winter Outlook report, but predictions in a small part of the Upper Peninsula find  "equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures."

The report shows more certainty for Michigan than the 2020 edition, when the entire state's winter weather patterns were a "toss-up," according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. 

The Great Lakes, including Michigan, may see a warmer than average winter from December 2021 to February 2022.

"Seasonal outlooks help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods," the report said. 

The predictions include weather forecasts for the country from December through February 2022. The National Weather Service will use the report to release localized predictions around mid-November.

The report also found a 40% to 50% chance of above-normal precipitation in the region.

Average temperatures for December through February in Metro Detroit are 31.3, 25.8 and 28 degrees, respectively, National Weather Service records show; average precipitation during those months is 2.25, 2.23 and 2.08 inches, respectively. 

Snowfall in Detroit has fluctuated in recent years, according to the weather service, with 44-45 inches in the 2020-21 and 2019-20 seasons, up from 31.3 the previous year, which was almost half of the 61 inches the year before in 2017-18. 

Increased rain and snow during the winter months could continue to cause damage that began in the summer, where widespread flooding hit the region.

Fall in southeast Michigan has already seen at least one major storm, in late September, that resulted in nearly 5 inches of rain and led to flood warnings, following a rainfall and thunderstorm-heavy summer that caused flooding and led, at one point, to power outages for over a million residents. 

In addition to the Great Lakes, NOAA predicts wetter-than-average conditions in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Ohio Valley and western Alaska. 

Colder weather and droughts are a concern in other parts of the country, the agency's Climate Prediction Center said.