Unusual weather impacts county
- EF-0 tornado hit the Maple Grove area near Barryville Road May 20. Winds reached up to 80 miles an hour and knocked over three barns belonging to Rod Crothers.
- year may have started with extreme cold, but extreme rain caused the most lasting issues in Barry County.
- arctic storm Feb. 23 brought temperatures below zero, suspended mail delivery, closed businesses and cancelled school for an entire week. Snow was carried away in dump trucks, and 60 mph winds blew drifts across the roads.
- local districts ended the school year with around 12 or 13 cancelled days due to snow. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency to forgive cancelled days, so the school year did not extend into summer.
- the cold weather, more people were using space heaters, and a number of fires broke out when temperatures were at their lowest.
- Fire Chief Roger Caris said firefighters were like human icicles as they tried to put out house fires in freezing temperatures. He implored people not to use alternative heating methods.
- Mother Nature wasn't done yet, and as the snow melted the rain didn't let up.
- flooding created some of the most dramatic images of the year, and residents likely also noticed idle farm fields as they travelled, especially on the eastern half of the county. The ground was too wet for many farmers to plant, and many who did plant found their crops ruined.
- been farming for the better part of 50 years, and I haven’t seen anything like this before,” Hastings producer Louis Wierenga Jr. said.
- the start of June about 80 percent of the year's corn was expected to be planted, but only half that had been planted. Soybeans were even worse, with 75 percent expected to have been planted, but only 30 percent actually in the ground. Many of those fields were never planted, and those that were had to be harvested late, to give the crops time to mature.
- the weather never cut farmers a break, and a record-breaking cold and snow in November led to more difficulties for farmers trying to harvest their crops. Some will end up leaving their crops out for the winter, which will mean many of them will be damaged by animals and frost.
- Any Dixon of the National Weather Service Grand Rapids office said Midwestern United States, and Southwest Michigan in particular, have experienced more rainfall than usual for the past six years.
- average rainfall for the area before 2013 was about 35 inches per year, but the annual average since then has added an extra 20 to 30 inches. Dixon said it is almost to the point where Southwest Michigan has two years' worth of rain per year.
- May, September, October and November had more days with rain than without. April and June each had 14 days with at least a trace of rain, according to records from the NWS meteorological station in Hastings.
- said there is no specific reason for the extra precipitation, and it is likely a combination of long-term climate cycles overlapping to increase rainfall across the region.
- he said he does not see any sign of the rainfall letting up soon. Even if it did, Dixon said groundwater levels are slow to react, and it will take years of significantly less rainfall for the water level to return to where it was before.
“You don't snap your fingers and things magically go back to normal,” he said.