Looking back at summer weather and ahead to winter on the first day of fall in metro Detroit

(WXYZ) - Even though it's felt like fall for awhile, today is the first full day of autumn. That's a good time to take quick look back at how Summer 2013 turned out, and look ahead at what we might be able to expect this winter.

Between the summer solstice and yesterday's autumnal equinox, temperatures averaged close to normal.  Though quite a few afternoons fell short of the average highs, that was often countered by warmer than average overnight lows.  Often those warm nights were a result of cloudy skies which trapped the day's warmth. We had more cloudiness than usual this summer.

Not surprisingly, this last summer was quite a bit wetter than normal, with almost seven inches more rain than long-term averages.   And compared to the summer of 2012, which was unusually dry, it really stood out.  All the rain has metro area lawns much greener than we've gotten used to, without the benefit of too much sprinkler use.

As for the winter that lies ahead of us, we can't draw any conclusions from the wet summer.  Wet summers have been followed by nearly every kind of winter you can imagine.  And though the Farmer's Almanac and Old Farmer's Almanac are both predicting unusually cold and snowy winters for our area, I wouldn't place bets on that.

The latest outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, the government forecast office that looks at things like ocean surface temperatures and global jet stream circulation patterns to predict seasonal trends, isn't exactly worthy of a banner headline.  The CPC outlook for December, January and February, which is considered meteorological winter, is for both temperatures and precipitation to be close to normal (remember, they don't need to sell any books). That makes sense to the First Alert team as well.

So what is normal, you might ask?  Normal snowfall for metro Detroit from November through April is about 43 inches. Normal temperatures in January, typically the coldest month of the year, are 32 degrees for a high and near 20 for a low.

We've got quite a bit of time this fall to track and revise that outlook, and seasonal forecasts in general are a lot less accurate than the forecast for the next few days.  But the science we use doesn't suggest that you need to run out to buy the biggest snowblower you can find.  Stay tuned.


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