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Winnipeg enjoyed fifth-warmest year on record

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It may have been the warmest year on record for the United States, but Winnipeg can celebrate 2012 as its fifth-warmest.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski said the average mean temperature in Winnipeg in 2012 was 4.6 C, two degrees higher than the normal mean temperature, based on 140 years of climate records.

And at one point, the year was shaping up to even be warmer.

"The first nine months of the year, we were warmer than normal -- March was the warmest ever -- but then came October, November and December and we slipped back down," he said on Monday.

Marciski said the only years warmer than this one were 1987, at 5.4 C, 1931 at 5.3 C, and 1878 and 1998 tied at 4.7 C.

He said the absence of days when the low fell to -30 C or below in 2012 was also unusual.

"The coldest temperature of all in 2012 was -29 C and that wasn't until Dec. 24," Marciski said.

"That's only the second time we never had a temperature of -30 C or colder in a year. It happened once before, in 1931, but even in 1987 we had temperatures of -30 or below."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday 2012 was the warmest year on record for the 48 states in the continental United States.

The NOAA also said the official average temperature across the U.S. was 55.3 F (12.9 C), beating by a full degree Fahrenheit the temperature experienced in 1998, the previous record-holder. The temperature was also 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average.

Marciski said the amount of snow in Winnipeg is another way of seeing this winter is different than last winter.

He said last winter, as of Jan. 8, 32 centimetres of white stuff had fallen on the city, with a total of 70 cm of snow the entire winter.

As of Tuesday, 74 cm of snow have already fallen here this season.

"We've almost received what we got for the entire winter (last year)."

Marciski said overall precipitation for all 12 months in 2012 was 432.5 millimetres, 84 per cent of the normal 513.7 mm, but it wasn't close to being Winnipeg's driest year ever.

"It was the 33rd-driest year out of 140 years," he said.

"Our driest year was 1961 with 320.0 mm, while our wettest year was 1962 with 723.6 mm. It just shows how fast climate can change."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 A2

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