Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 19, 2012

October much wetter than normal

'Any moisture is good. Our soils were very, very dry'


TRAVERSE CITY — A wet fall is making up for a bone-dry summer.

Rain totals in much of the Grand Traverse region dropped well below normal in July and August and prompted concerns about fire danger and crop health. But the last four weeks have been much wetter than normal in most areas.

"It's been great," said Tim Locker, a Gaylord-based Meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "I've been hearing a lot of people talk about how nice it is to see rain, and you don't usually see that."

Traverse City received about one inch of rain in August, compared to a normal total of about 3.75 inches, Locker said. But the city already has received nearly 5 inches in October alone, compared with a normal total of roughly 2.15 inches by mid-October.

It's much the same in Frankfort, where the 0.75-inch total in August was down from a more typical 3.5 inches. But nearly 3.75 inches fell there so far this month, compared with a normal mark of 1.8 inches by this time.

Kalkaska had about half of its normal 3.3-inch total in August, but stands at more than twice its normal 2.1-inch total for the first half of October.

Much of the recent rain came Oct. 14-15, Locker said. Traverse City received a total of 3.15 inches in those two days alone, Locker said.

Traverse City is about 5 inches above normal for total precipitation on the year, despite the parched summer, Locker said. Aside from October, numbers in January, March, May and June were above normal.

Rain came too late for the summer growing season, but it's still welcome. Nikki Rothwell, who runs the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station near Suttons Bay, said fall rain will boost overall soil quality for the future.

"Any moisture is good," she said. "Our soils were very, very dry."