By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
— If 2012 wasn’t warm enough for you, it certainly was for the record book.
The year ends virtually tied with 1931 as the coziest ever in Minnesota.
According to the National Weather Service, the Twin Cities metro area posted an average temperature for the year of 50.8 degrees in ’31 — a number identical to the area’s yearlong average as of Monday.
Weather Service climatologists said only a New Year’s Eve cold snap would cause 2012 to fall a hair shy of the all-time mark.
KEYC TV Chief Meteorologist Mark Tarello said the number of 2012 record-high temperatures in the Mankato area were the most he’s seen since he began work at the station six years ago.
By his tally, 17 high-temperature records were set the past year, starting with four marks set in January and highlighted by an incredible eight high-temperature records in March.
On March 18 the Elysian area was hit by a tornado — the second-earliest twister on record in Minnesota.
The Weather Service said 2012 temperatures in most of Minnesota ran about 5.1 degrees above average, creating climatic conditions akin to living in Omaha, Neb.
The corollary to record heat, drought, also held sway in 2012.
As of Dec. 18, virtually the entire state was at some level of drought with a quarter of the state in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The Twin Cities area experienced the second-driest September on record, with 0.3 inches of rainfall, trailing only September 1882, when 0.27 inches of rain fell.
Tarello said the drought locally began in late 2011, and the Mankato area now sits at 20-21 inches of precipitation below normal.
“If there’s anything positive to come out of this it’s that we won’t have any flood warnings come spring,” Tarello said.
He said 10 inches of snow have fallen so far in the Mankato area, compared with 19 inches for all of last winter.
The National Weather Service said today’s arctic chill will ease starting Wednesday with a mild Pacific air mass boosting temperatures to near 30 by Sunday.