By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The pandemic isn’t the only thing that’s made 2021 a peculiar year, Minnesotans have also experienced some wild weather.

From smoky air and wicked winds to heavy snow and severe drought, the last twelve months were a story of weather extremes.

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“This is one strange year,” said DNR state climatologist Pete Boulay. “I’m still trying to fix all the weather records that we broke this year.”

He says the first shocker came in February, when the Twin Cities sat at or below zero for 116 hours. Boulay says that was the longest subzero stretch since 1994.

Every month after February, however, has been above average.

June came in hot with an early hate wave. The Twin Cities saw the mercury hit 90 degrees for nine days in a row.

The heat intensified the drought, which became the story of the summer.

“The worst drought since 1988,” Boulay said.

Minnesotans were asked to think twice before watering their lawns, and lake weeds thrived. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, did not.

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Blankets of wild fire smoke from Canada and the Rockies rolled in and kept many inside. The worst of the haze came in late July and stuck around for a week.

Then, wildfires burned in northern Minnesota. The Greenwood Fire destroyed more than a dozen cabins and scorched more than 26,000 acres.

For a while it looked like the drought would be the biggest weather story of the year. Then Dec. 15 happened.

The first December tornadoes ever recorded in Minnesota touched down. Twenty twisters were confirmed in a storm that swept over the southeastern part of the state.

To end the year, there’ll be a blast of arctic air. Temperatures are expected to be subzero for all of New Year’s Day.

Looking ahead, drought will still be an issue in 2022, Boulay said. Most of the Twin Cities is still under a moderate drought.

On the bright side, because there were fewer mosquitoes this year, there’ll likely be fewer next year, too.

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Erin Hassanzadeh