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When I'm wondering about 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 Take it away Steve!


"Squaw winter" is a spell of early winter-like cold and snow that interrupts the normal period of Indian Summer. It usually doesn't last as long and then the weather returns to normal. Typical squaw winter lasts a week or so. This year it has been abnormally long on the order of 3 weeks. I saw it mentioned several times in my pioneer journal. It is something on the order of Indian Summer, just the opposite. I don't think it happens every year.


If you think we've had a lot of snow and cold weather recently it could be worse. I found a couple of years that were.

During November of 1898, Winterset received a total of 26.5" of snow for the month. Spirit Lake dropped to a low of -17 on the morning of the 22nd.

During November of 1959, Sheldon received a total of 21.3" of snow for the month, Emmetsburg had 21.0", Sanborn - 20.8", LeMars - 19.1", Humboldt - 19.0" and New Hampton - 17.0".

On the 14th of the month, LeMars had a low of -24, the second coldest ever for the month of November, only Cresco's low of -25 on Nov. 28, 1887 was colder. Other lows on the 14th were a -20 at Sheldon, Rock Rapids and Sibley. Just 10 days earlier, the 4th, Glenwood and Keosaqua saw highs of 71 degrees.


An earthquake sent shocks across the state during the late morning and afternoon of Nov. 22, 1877.

The shock waves were lighter in some areas than in others. At Council Bluffs, around 11:45 a.m., quick successive hocks from N.W. to S.E., lasting 2 minutes threatened brick buildings sending people running out into the streets for safety. In Sioux City, around 11:30 a.m., the severe shocks lasted 15 seconds, creating a panic among the people in St. Mary's Church. The high school building had one of it's walls crack.


I went through my old pioneer journals and found several entries about the weather on Thanksgiving Day from years gone by.

In 1871 - the day was sunny and bright.

In 1889 - there was snow.

In 1892 - the weather was pleasant and most farmers were in the fields.

In 1896 - the day was rainy.


Back in the 1800's there were no long range weather outlooks. There were those who tried to forecast the upcoming winter using past weather trends and signs form Nature. They were generally the older citizens who long memories and almost every town had one.

I found 7 such predictions in my pioneer journals. The prophets were only correct on 2 of their winter forecasts, with 2 other predictions that were partially correct. The 2 that were correct were for a "hard winters". One forecast was based on the height of the hornet's nests out in the timber.

That's all for now. On the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk...

*Here's an invitation for you to become a graduate of Weather School at TSwails University. Get the details on the program and your "degree" below. is offering a very special and unique opportunity for you to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the country along with his team of expert meteorologists.

That’s right… You want to forecast right along with Terry Swails, well now you can. He’s teaching weather with TSwails newest program called WEATHER SCHOOL. The opening bell rings this January and you can be a member of the very first graduating class. The one-day forecasting seminar for weather enthusiasts will be held at his home in January. It’s not your typical run-of-the-mill school. There will be no tests, but Terry, Rebecca, and Nick will cram your head with so much knowledge, it’ll be spinning like a tornado before the day is over

You want to know the essential online sites to use for models, radar, and the basic weather tools? DONE! You want to understand the structure of models and the role they play? DONE! You want to be able to construct forecasts from the ground up? DONE!

WEATHER SCHOOL will be presented in a seminar-type format where you'll have the ability to ask questions and dig deep. You’ll get the scoop on data acquisition, model analysis, severe weather, and actual forecasting from the big dog himself, T. Swails. With 43 years of experience and an uncanny ability to break the science down, you’ll open the door to forecasting like never before.

Along with the head master T. Swails himself, meteorologists Rebecca Kopelman and Nick Stewart of KGAN TV will be there to lend their knowledge and experience to the discussion. It will be fun, informative, and factual! This is the day for you to see, feel, and experience what it’s like to be in the hot seat of a meteorologist.

The seminar will be held January 25th and will last from noon until 5:00pm. We have limited seating and the cost is $ 99 dollars per person. A catered lunch will be provided. Again..not a lot of seats so reservations with a pre-payment are required. Sorry, no refunds. If there’s enough interest, a second session will be added in early February. To register or get additional information send an email to

GIVE THE GIFT OF WEATHER. This might be the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person this Christmas. Along with a WEATHER SCHOOL admittance voucher, TSwails will send a special holiday greeting to your weather enthusiast if you give the gift of weather with the TSwails touch!



Purpose: To help weather enthusiasts understand the basics of forecasting and apply the knowledge and techniques learned to construct personal forecasts.


The essential on-line sites for models, observations, satellite and radar images, and general weather data.

Session 2: ANALYSIS:

Determining your objective goals. Short term, intermediate, or long-term. Understanding the process of analysis and its relationship to forecasting.

Model options and choices. What to use and when!

The GFS, EURO, NAM 3k, NAM 12K, Canadian, HRRR, MJO, ensembles, teleconnections, etc.

Locating, learning, and knowing what’s essential to make a reliable forecast.

The art and science of model interpretation: Using and understanding model output. Its called guidance for a reason!

Learn how to analyze key parameters such as:

Surface and upper air data

Vorticity and energy

Precipitation output

Wind and pressure


A simulation of the basic process using model output.

BREAK: A 25-30 minute recess to enjoy a catered lunch…


Thunderstorms, tornadoes, derechoes, and squall lines.

Soundings. What are they and why should I care?

Instability (CAPE) vs (CIN) Critical interaction involving moisture, heating, and forcing.

Uncovering the ingredients of a severe weather set-up.

TVS signatures. What to look for on radar.

Role of SPC vs NWS, and your local TV station regarding the warning process.

Simulated model driven forecast of a severe weather event/tornado outbreak


The key ingredients required for significant winter storm:

How to forecast the rain snow line.

How to forecast snow totals from QPF

Determining totals from snow ratios.

What to look for at the surface and at upper levels (500 and 850mb)

Model bias and determining the storm track

Simulated model driven forecast of a significant Midwest winter storm


An open period for attendees to ask questions regarding relevant topics or issues discussed during the day.


Some final words of inspiration from the events headliners

Once again, to reserve a spot or ask questions send an email to See you when the bell rings! T. Swails


I hope you are aware of how far ahead of the competition TSwails has been in catching the trends of our early winter weather pattern. It takes a heck of a lot of commitment, passion, and knowledge to do that. This is now my job and that's why I'm asking for a voluntary subscription fee of $12 dollars a year, one dollar a month to keep TSwails going. Together we can create one of the best, most unique, and reliable weather sites in the Midwest. Your contribution of 3 cents a day, allows me to stay free of the corporate world and pour my energy into doing what I do best, forecasting the weather! We hope you see the value and hard work that goes into the site everyday. You support in any way is sincerely appreciated. Thanks and roll weather. To donate click on the secure green box below.