Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes
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Lake Michigan Coastal Dune Home
Introduction to Lake Michigan Coastal Dunes
Features and Types of Dunes
Wind, Sand and Coastal Dunes
Climate, Dune, Lake and Seasonal Factors
Methods, Results and Research Students
References and Links to More Information


Environment - Precipitation

Lake Michigan coastal dunes experience a humid midlatitude climate, with precipitation throughout the year. The average annual precipitation recorded at Muskegon, MI, is 89 cm (33 inches) with an average of 290 cm (114 inches) of snow in the winter months.

Precipitation affects sand movement directly by producing wet, snow-covered, or ice-covered surfaces, each decreasing the amount of sand movement. Rain is often part of the autumn storms that bring strong winds to the dunes, so the winds are not as effective as they would be with drier sand.

Muskegon climate normals: precipitation
Snow amounts are given in water equivalents (w.e.): the amount of water obtained by melting the snow. The water equivalent is approximately 1/10 the height of the snow.

Data source: 1971-2000 monthly normals as published in the
Climatography of the United States No. 20 available from the National Climatic Data Center at

Precipitation affects sand movement less directly by contributing to vegetation growth on the dunes. The results are coastal dunes types which are anchored, shaped and stabilized by vegetation such as American beachgrass and beech-maple forests.

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Last updated 03/23/10.