MANKATO — Much needed rainfall is on the way this week, but first Mankatoans were treated to their first 80-degree day of the year Monday.

Mankato reached the benchmark a little before noon before peaking at about 85 degrees in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

It was the first time temperatures reached 80 degrees in Mankato since Oct. 9, drawing many families out to enjoy the warm weather.

Mankato’s Dairy Queen West, which recently opened for the season, had a steady stream of customers filing in for cold treats. Among them were Farrah Tienter and her daughter, Jayda Krueger, 8, who shared an ice cream sundae after a hike at Minneopa State Park.

“We decided to make it a day, a mommy/Jayda date we’re calling it,” Tienter said.

The last time she recalled it feeling this warm this early in April was at least several years ago when she had her garden in by the beginning of the month. She thought it might’ve been in 2012.

Early spring 2012 was especially warm. Unofficially, the earliest day when Mankato reached 80 degrees was March 18, 2012, said Brett Hewett, forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Twin Cities office.

Darcy Mathews drove over to Dairy Queen West from Lake Crystal to get Nerds Blizzards with her four children, ages 5, 8, 10 and 12. Mathews said they might check out a park afterward after enjoying the weather outside their house earlier in the day.

With Easter Sunday and the couple days leading up to it also being warm, Dairy Queen West had a nice, busy few days, said owner JoRae Galli Storm.

Monday was just the continuation of what has been a relatively warm and dry spring compared to the average year.

“We’re running about 9 degrees warmer than average for Mankato,” Hewett said. “We’ll remain warmer but we’ll finally get some soaking rain on the way.”

Average highs are usually in the low 50s in early April. Even if the rest of the week drops into the 60s or 50s as forecasted, it’d still keep temperatures at or above the average.

Rain coming as soon as late Monday and continuing at times throughout the week will cool things down, while helping to address the dry conditions so far this spring. Blue Earth County and all of southern Minnesota were considered at “very high” fire risk as of Monday, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Several bands of rain will be moving in starting Tuesday, Hewett said. The dry conditions up until then, though, should keep flooding risks low.

“We’ve been very dry,” Hewett said. “All the frost is out of the ground so the rain should soak in.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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