December 2018 on pace for near record low snowfall in Metro Detroit

Detroit on pace for fifth wettest year on record

DETROIT – It’s been quite a year, weather-wise, and quite a last month of the year.  

While it’s been a much warmer than average December for us here in southeast Michigan, we probably won’t finish in the top ten for warmest Decembers.  

Related: Here's an updated weather outlook on winter in Michigan this season

However, the mild month combined with a pretty benign storm track has kept all of the snowstorms away from us. Through today, we have (officially at Metro Airport) only recorded 0.1” of snow.  

If we don’t get any more measurable snow the rest of the month - and this looks increasingly likely – then December 2018 will finish as the second least snowy winter on record for Detroit.

On an even bigger scale, we are currently in sixth place for wettest year on record.  Keep in mind that this includes not only rain, but the melted liquid equivalent of snow that falls.  

We are now less than two-tenths of an inch from fifth place, and it appears likely that we’ll get more than that later today, so we should finish 2018 as Detroit’s fifth wettest year on record.  

That means that five of Detroit’s top-ten wettest years on record have occurred in the past thirty-three years. This is actually very consistent with one of the most agreed-upon impacts from global warming.

You see, as the planet warms (both the air and the oceans are warming), more ocean water is evaporated into the atmosphere.  

This atmospheric humidity is what storm systems turn into precipitation. So, increased precipitation events are a very simple reaction that occurs from adding more moisture into the system.  

It’s like putting the atmosphere on steroids: Big storms have happened in the past, and they will happen in the future. But there is a significantly greater chance that they will dump more precipitation.

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.