top of page
thumbnail_1 ts baner, future in your hands.png


We have a new weekly contributor to TSwails, one of several new features we'll be adding. When it comes to weather folklore and historical events this is the man I go to. With more than 50 years of statistical and observational research, he's the dude! When it comes to lunar cycles, woolly bear caterpillars, insects, bugs, and animals, he tracks them, records them, and establishes ties to weather patterns. He's a knowledgeable and interesting man. His name is Steve Gottschalk by way of Lowden, Iowa. I'm grateful to him for lending his unique perspective to the site. Steve's "wild" world of weather can be found every Wednesday right here on


By Steve Gottschalk

I will start my blog off this week with the fact that most of the trees still have their leaves and that most of them are still green. Despite the efforts of the strong winds last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, not very many leaves came down. I can't remember the last time this occurred. There are two weather folklore sayings that deal with this phenomena. " If on the trees the leaves still hold, the coming winter will be cold." The other saying simply states "If the leaves are slow to fall, expect a cold winter."

The month of October has it's share of cloudy days. Around here the monthly average is 12. My research has shown that in the past 2 decades the month is seeing more cloudy days. Previously, from 1970 to 1999 the average was 11 overcast days. Since 2000 the average has jumped significantly to 14!

The month is trending wetter too. From 1960 to 1999 the monthly average rainfall was 2.97". Since 2000 the average jumped to 3.42", an increase of 0.45". We've also picked up an extra day of rainfall.

Over the past 59 years I have measured snowfall only 6 times during October. Most recently in 2013. Based on my research of these 6 events, snow has fallen on the week of the Last Quarter moon- 50% of the time; the week of the Full Moon-33% of the time and the week of the First Quarter moon- 17% of the time. This year watch that first quarter around the 30-31st.

One thing that I look at when I do my winter forecast are the number of sunspots. According to the solar scientists we are currently in a "deep solar minimum". There have been 210 days so far this year with no sunspots which at this point in the year ties 2008. Back in 2008 the yearly total of days with no sunspots ended up at 268. In 2009 there were 260 such days and last year the total was 221 days. All of those years were followed by cold and snowy winters. I think this coming winter will be the same. Here's the winter snowfall totals in the Quad Cities (December-February) for those low sunspot years. Seasonal totals were even higher

2008-2009 38 inches

2009-2010 44 inches

2018-2019 40 inches

2 of those 3 years are in the top 9 of the all-time Quad City snowiest. The average of those 3 years comes out to 41 inches, about 16" above normal. Is that a tip as to what we can expect this winter? An Interesting trend there....

Here's a WOOLLY BEAR CATERPILLAR UPDATE. I now have 46 "woolly bear" reports. The recent finds were showing 4, 5 and 6 brown bands. The overall average now is pointing to a "slightly colder" than normal winter.

LUNAR WEATHER FORECAST. According to my indications the best chance for rain and wind will be around Oct. 20-21st; Oct. 26-27th and Oct. 30th. I ask for a grace period of 24 hours either side of the dates.

That's all for this week. On the "wild" side, Steve Gottschalk

I also wanted to report that Steve was just presented his 35 year service award from the NWS in the Quad Cities for his long history as a cooperative observer for Lowden, Iowa. Tim Gross in the shades gave the plaque to Steve earlier this week. Congratulations to Steve and a tip of the hat to the men and women of the NWS who do great work that is far too often unrecognized!

By the way, if you have not done so, please consider a voluntary subscription to TSwails of $12 dollars a year ($1 dollar per month). The future of the site is dependent on your contributions. We hope you see the value and hard work that exists in the daily content. There are new features currently in development that I think you will enjoy. Thank you so much for your consideration and help. To subscribe click on the secure green box below.

bottom of page