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Area may have a soggy autumn

ESCANABA — Summer is officially ending next week, and the National Weather Service (NWS) has stated local residents can expect to see above-average precipitation this fall. However, predictions for fall temperatures in the area were less clear.

Matt Zika, a meteorologist for the NWS Marquette Office, said temperatures were about six degrees below the Upper Peninsula’s 30-year average for the first 10 days of September.

“September’s started off pretty chilly compared to normal,” he said.

In contrast, 19 of the area’s last 20 Septembers have had average temperatures above the 30-year average.

For the second half of the month, Zika expected the average temperature to trend closer to normal.

“(That) will probably balance out the cool start we’ve had here,” he said.

Looking further ahead, the NWS is anticipating equal chances of above-normal and below-normal temperatures in the U.P. this fall.

“Most signs point to a pretty typical fall stretch,” Zika said.

Zika also noted a La Nina — a phenomenon which influences weather conditions across the United States — is developing this year. While moderate to strong La Ninas have led to increased chances of below-normal winter temperatures in the area, this La Nina is expected to be relatively weak and should not have a direct impact on weather in the U.P.

“We can’t necessarily say for sure which way the winter is going to go at this point,” Zika said.

Zika went on to speak about the NWS’ expectations for precipitation locally. He said more than 12 inches of rainfall were recorded in Escanaba last September and October, and the entire U.P. saw record precipitation levels during the fall.

Though slightly above-average rainfall is expected in the area this autumn, Zika said it should not be anywhere near what was seen in 2019.

“It won’t be as extreme as it was last year,” he said.

Since the year began, 22.55 inches of accumulated precipitation have been recorded in Escanaba. The average local precipitation level for this timespan is 20 inches.

While precipitation this year has only been slightly above average, water levels on Lake Michigan have been extremely high in 2020.

“They are right now tied for their record level for the month of September,” Zika said.

Water levels are expected to decrease during the fall and winter, but will still be higher than average.

“They’ll be well above normal at least through this upcoming winter season,” Zika said.

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