Top Five Weather Events of 2012 in Minnesota

Here are candidates for the top five weather events of 2012 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Do you agree? If you disagree with this list, please visit us on Facebook and post your top 5 weather events for Minnesota.

#5 Non-Winter of 2011-12

Some of the predictions were dire. Possibly a winter more snowy than 2010-2011 was in the cards. It didn't happen. One of the most wimpy winters ever seen in the Twin Cities and Minnesota was the result with mild temperatures and scant snowfall. 2011-12 wound up the tenth least snowy winter on record for the Twin Cities and was the fourth warmest winter on record.

#4 Hot July 2012

2012 was the second warmest month ever for the Twin Cities back to 1872 with 80.2 degrees. Only July 1936 was warmer with 81.4 degrees. Duluth had its warmest July on record, although in 1936, the recording station for Duluth was closer to Lake Superior. To escape the heat, one had to go to International Falls where the average July temperature was 69 degrees making 2012 only the 12th warmest July on record there.

#3 Drought of 2011-2012

This could easily be #1 depending on where you live in Minnesota. The heavy rains of May and June, 2012 helped to blunt the drought a bit, but then it intensified by the late summer and continued into the fall. By late November 80% of the state was under a severe or extreme drought. By fall, soil moisture levels at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca were some of the lowest on record.

#2 Northeast Minnesota Flood of June 19-20

The largest flash flood event in Minnesota for 2012 struck northeast Minnesota on June 19-20. The largest two day total was 10.10 inches just northeast of Duluth. There were so many roads flooded out in Carlton County that the county rain out of signs and more had to be trucked from the Twin Cities. One of the iconic photos of the storm was of Feisty the seal who escaped the Lake Superior Zoo and wound up on a neighborhood street. The St. Louis River engulfed and nearly destroyed the Jay Cooke State Park Swinging Bridge, but it will reopen in the summer of 2013. As for Feisty? She found refuge at Como Zoo and now has over 800 followers on Twitter.

#1 Outrageously Mild March 2012

Imagine if you will a March that was so warm it would break six record high temperature records in the Twin Cities, have four days with muggy dew point temperatures that reached 60 and wound up warmer than October! To top it off the Twin Cities had its earliest 80 degree temperature ever with 80 degrees on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The old record was March 23 back in 1910. March 2012 will go down in history as one of the most bizarre months temperature-wise, finishing 15.5 degrees above normal. The only other month in the historical record for the Twin Cities that matches this feat was January 2006 that also finished 15.5 degrees above normal. As a consequence, spring phenology was exceedingly early with lilacs blooming the earliest on record in the Twin Cities, with many in full bloom by mid April.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention #1 November 10, 2012 Tornadoes

Before 2012, there were only three November tornadoes reported in Minnesota history. Now there are seven thanks to the November 10, 2012 event. They were very weak tornadoes. Nonetheless it is the largest November tornado outbreak on record for Minnesota.

Honorable Mention #2 Snowstorm of December 8-9, 2012

Bringing badly needed moisture to the state, the snowstorm of December 8-9 left a thick blanket of snow a foot deep in some spots from the northern Twin Cities westward to the South Dakota border. What may be best remembered from the storm were the washboard roads left in its wake. The roads greatly improved with a mid-December meltdown.

Honorable Mention #3 Tornado of March 19, 2012

The 2012 tornado season got a quick start with a weak tornado that touched down in Northern Waseca County and moved into southern Le Sueur County. This is the second earliest tornado on record. The earliest tornado on record occurred on March 18, 1968 near Truman, north of Fairmont.

Honorable Mention #4 Cannon Falls area Heavy Rain: June 14, 2012

Heavy rains brought localized flooding to the Cannon Falls area. The 8.83 inches measured at Cannon Falls is the largest 24-hour total June rainfall measured at a Minnesota National Weather Service Volunteer Cooperative station in the history of the program. The previous record was 8.67 inches measured on June 17, 1957 at Minneota.

Honorable Mention #5 Warm 2012

The warm year in general of 2012 also receives an honorable mention. 2012 was tied for the warmest year on record in the Twin Cities, and was the warmest year on record in Rochester.

Last modified: May 13, 2015
Pete Boulay, DNR Climatologist
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu