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Parts of Michigan officially in drought as near-record heat hangs on

A large portion of lower Michigan is considered to be 'abnormally dry,' according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
Sunflowers wilt in front of Ford Motor Co. world headquarters in Dearborn metro Detroit struggles with abnormally hot and dry conditions for fall.

If scorching temperatures aren't bad enough, the parts of Michigan now are officially in drought.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large portion of lower Michigan is considered "abnormally dry" with Eaton and surrounding counties – Ingham, Clinton, Ionia and Berry – in "moderate drought."

The National Weather Service out of White Lake said today’s high will be close to the 126-year-old record of 93 degrees set in 1891. Today and Tuesday, temperatures are expected to reach 89 degrees. The record for Sept. 26 for Detroit is 91 degrees set in 1998.

And rainfall for the month is down significantly, 0.9 inches so far this month compared to 2.67 inches on average for September.

“We are definitely in need of rain,’’ said weather service meteorologist Sara Pampreen.

Drought map (Photo: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)

The hot, dry conditions are a mixed bag when it comes to agriculture, said Mark Longstroth, fruit educator for Michigan State University Extension Service.

He said grape growers are giddy while apple growers ''are picking and swearing.''

"Apples," he said, "this heat is going to speed them up. They are going to ripen faster. "

Growers are rushing to pick their trees.

"It's squeezing their harvest,'' said Longstroth. "In grapes, it's going to do the same thing. The grape guys are pretty happy. What they want is more sugar. The longer it stays warm and dry, the happier grape growers are.''

Relief is on the way – at least in terms of the heat, according to the weather service.

Thursday's high will only reach the middle 60s, with a slight chance of rain Thursday night into Friday morning.

In the meantime, keep watering that garden.

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