By JIM ANDERSON
IRON MOUNTAIN - Last year was the second-warmest and 10th-driest on record at Iron Mountain-Kingsford, the National Weather Service reported.
The average temperature in 2012 was 46.1 degrees, which was 3.8 degrees above normal, said Kevin Crupi, weather service meteorologist at Marquette. The average reading fell just shy of the record warmth of 46.3 degrees set in 1998.
Water-equivalent precipitation last year totaled 23.72 inches at Iron Mountain-Kingsford, which was six inches below normal, Crupi said. The driest year on record, 1989, showed 20.32 inches.
Elsewhere in the U.P., Marquette (47.3 degrees) and Munising (45.1 degrees) both experienced their warmest years on record.
Temperatures were boosted near the end of 2012 by a prevailing west-to-east flow of mild Pacific air during the first three weeks of December, Crupi noted.
"With the unseasonable warmth the first three weeks, lake effect snow was relatively infrequent," he said. There was record-low December snowfall at both Ontonagon and Marquette.
The average temperature at Iron Mountain-Kingsford in December was 25 degrees, a whopping 5.6 degrees above normal. The highest temperature was 54 degrees on Dec. 3 and the lowest was minus 4 on Dec. 24.
Snowfall in December totaled 13.5 inches, which was 0.4 inches below normal. Water-equivalent precipitation was 1.55 inches, which was right at normal. More than half of the month's snow total came on Dec. 20, when seven inches fell, a record for that date.
Statistics for the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant cooperative observer site are based on records that began in March 1931. Normals used are for the period 1981 through 2010.
The long-range forecast from the Climate Prediction Center calls for normal temperature and precipitation trends across the Upper Peninsula from February through April.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows conditions ranging from moderate drought to abnormally dry in the Dickinson-Iron County area.
Some other temperature and precipitation observations across the U.P. in December:
- Ironwood, average temperature 21.8 (5.2 degrees above normal), snowfall 18.5 inches (27.8 inches below normal).
- Baraga, average temperature 26.2 degrees, snowfall 7.8 inches.
- Big Bay, average temperature 27.9 degrees, snowfall 11.6 inches.
- Marquette, average temperature 29.9 degrees (6.4 degrees above normal), snowfall 3.2 inches (22.1 inches below normal).
- Munising, average temperature 28.0 degrees (5.1 degrees above normal), snowfall 15.4 inches (25.8 inches below normal).
- Newberry, average temperature 27.3 (5.1 degrees above normal) snowfall 20.9 inches (12.4 inches below normal).
- Iron River, average temperature 22 degrees, snowfall 5 inches.
- Garden Corners, average temperature 35 degrees, snowfall 13 inches.
- Manistique, average temperature 29.1 (5.7 degrees above normal), snowfall 12.5 inches (6.8 inches below normal).
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.