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2013 wettest year in Michigan history

It's official. Last year was the wettest year on record for Michigan.

At least four locations in Michigan set records for most precipitation.
At least four locations in Michigan set records for most precipitation.NOAA

According to NOAA's national overview for 2013, which was released on January 21, 2014, the average precipitation in Michigan was the highest in 119 years of record-keeping. Michigan had 40.12 inches of precipitation, 8.9 inches above average. This beat the previous record wet year of 1985 by 0.64 inch.

Other states setting weather records last year were North Dakota, which also had its wettest year on record, and California, where Governor Jerry Brown recently declared a drought state of emergency after the Golden State's driest year ever.

At least four stations in Michigan also set records for rain and snow falling. Chief among them was Sault Ste. Marie with 48.80 inches, 15.85 inches more than the average of 32.95 inches. Other Michigan locations indicated by NOAA as having set records were near or at Bad Axe, Charlevoix, and Lansing. Ironwood may also have set a record.

Other cities in the state also had a very wet 2013. Muskegon had its third moistest year ever, with 43.77 inches falling, 10.28 inches more than the average of 33.49 inches. Detroit and Grand Rapids both recorded their fifth heaviest precipitation in history. A total of 39.94 inches fell on the Motor City last year, which is 6.47 inches above normal. Last year had a ways to go to match 2011, which set the record with 47.70 inches. Grand Rapids had 45.51 inches, 7.24 inches about its average of 38.27 inches.

The record precipitation began early, as Michigan endured its fifth wettest winter and spring, followed by its twenty-fourth moistest summer and fall.

The state's average temperatures went in the opposite direction from precipitation in 2013. After the seventeenth warmest winter on record, the state cooled down during the rest of 2013. The spring was the thirty-ninth coolest, followed by a summer and fall that were on the low side of average. Michigan ended up with the fourtieth coldest year on record, with an annual average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This was still less than half a degree less than the average of 44.4 degrees.

The other record setter for high precipitation, North Dakota, finished the year with 24.54 inches of precipitation, 7.18 inches above average. This bested the previous record wet year of 2010 by 0.29 inch. In contrast, California had its driest calendar year on record with 7.38 inches of precipitation, 15.13 inches below average. This was 2.42 inches below the previous record dry year of 1898. To add insult to injury, California also had its twelfth warmest year ever, with four locations setting records, increasing evaporation and aggravating the drought.