Detroit: Geography and Climate

Detroit is set on the Detroit River; the metropolitan area includes the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the west end of Lake Erie. The land is nearly flat, rising gently north-westward from the waterways, then becoming rolling terrain. The climate is influenced by the city's location near the Great Lakes and its position in a major storm track; climatic variations also arise from the urban heat island, the effect becoming most apparent at night, when temperatures downtown will remain significantly higher than those in suburban locations. The city enjoys four distinct seasons. Winters are generally long and cold, and storms can bring combinations of rain, snow, freezing rain, and sleet with heavy snowfall possible at times. Annual snowfalls average around 45 inches. During the summer, storms pass to the north, allowing for intervals of warm, humid weather with occasional thunderstorms that are followed by days of mild, dry weather. Autumn colors can be spectacular, particularly to the north of the city. Air pollution coming from heavy industry in the area is said to have been minimized with state-of-the-art pollution control efforts.

Area: 138.7 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 581 feet above sea level at Detroit River

Average Daily Temperatures: January, 28.1° F; July, 72.3° F; annual average, 48.6° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 30.97 inches of rain, 45 inches of snow