Well, with 2012 now in the books, we can now look into the data from last year which reveals some unheard of warmth for much of Northern Michigan.
The National Weather Service Office in Gaylord's preliminary data shows that 2012 will go down in the books as the warmest EVER on record for Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena, Houghton Lake and Traverse City. That's nothing to sneeze at with some of these records going back to the late-1800's.
If you take all of the hourly temperatures all year long both day and night and put them into a blender, you come up with a mean or "average" temperature for each location. Here is what that looks like and how warm it was.
Sault Ste. Marie... WARMEST EVER. The Soo had a mean temperature of 45.7F for 2012 which came in four degrees above normal. The old record warmest year was back in 1998 when there was a mean temperature of 45.5F. So, by 0.2F degrees, Sault Ste. Marie set the warmest year on record in 2012. Those records go back to 1888.
Alpena... WARMEST EVER. Alpena had a mean temperature of 47.2F breaking the previous warmest year also set in 1998 of 46.5F. Records for Alpena date back to 1916.
Traverse City... WARMEST EVER. In 2012, Traverse City had their first ever mean/average temperature above 50F in history coming in at 50.1F. The previous warmest year was a record that had stood for 91 years, set back in 1921 which was 49.6F. So, by a half degree, Traverse City joined the list as warmest year on record. Data for Traverse City goes back to 1897.
Houghton Lake... WARMEST EVER. With a mean temperature of 47.8F, Houghton Lake joined the crowd with its warmest year ever. The old record was 47.5F set back 81 years ago in 1931. Data for Houghton Lake goes back to 1919.
Gaylord... TIED 2ND WARMEST EVER. Gaylord did not make the list of warmest year ever, but came close, tying its 2nd warmest year on record. The mean temperature at Gaylord was 46.1F which came in 0.4F short of the 46.5F temperature set back in 1971. Records for Gaylord go back to 1951.
There were other cities around the Midwest including Chicago and Detroit that also had the warmest years in recorded history. On the precipitation side, nothing was too unusual, although Traverse City did have the 5th wettest year in history there.
Recent trends including lowered snow amounts in the winter have contributed to record low water levels on the Great Lakes. What are your thoughts? Do you believe the climate is changing or is this just a short term phase? Leave your comments below.
For more information on Great Lakes water levels, click here.