Michigan seeing more downpours as temps warm each year

Historic rains in Metro Detroit follow national upward trend of rising extreme precipitation events

Michigan seeing more downpours as temps warm each year
Michigan seeing more downpours as temps warm each year

DETROIT – Over the past month, cities across the state of Michigan have experienced historic rains and significant flooding.

But just how historic has the recent weather been?

Throughout the last month, from June 18 to July 17, the following cities received the following amounts of rainfall:

  • Detroit -- 15.88 inches of rain
  • Dearborn -- 15.52 inches of rain
  • Grosse Pointe Farms -- 14.18 inches of rain
  • Dearborn Heights -- 12.06 inches of rain

For comparison, 16 inches of rain would equal 160 inches of snow -- and that amount of moisture fell in just one month.

Related: President Biden declares disaster in Michigan following June flooding

In a historical context, that amount of rainfall in that short time period does not occur frequently in southeastern Michigan.

Data shows that the cities of Detroit, Dearborn and Grosse Pointe Farms are only expected to experience a rain event like this once every 1,000 years, and only about every 200 years for the city of Dearborn Heights.

So why is the region experiencing more downpours now than before?

Global warming is causing more frequent and significant rain events.

More: Another major flood event in Metro Detroit: Should we blame global warming?

In a warmer world, we evaporate more ocean water into the atmosphere. For every degree Fahrenheit that the world warms, the Earth sees a 4% increase in water vapor into the atmosphere, and that moisture turns into precipitation.

And global temperatures have been on the rise in recent decades.

As shown in the chart in the video above, the increase of downpours in Michigan matches a national upward trend of extreme precipitation events over the last 70 years.

See the full report in the video above.


Related: Metro Detroit residents still cleaning up damage from massive floods


About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.