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CONSIDER THE VALUE continues to be a leader in catching and forecasting the trends of our extreme weather pattern the past few weeks. It takes a great deal of commitment, passion, and knowledge to stay on top of the swings. Now that I'm no longer in television, this is my job and that's the reason 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. Your support in any way is sincerely appreciated. Thanks and roll weather. To donate click on the secure green box below.


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 week right

here on Take it away Steve!


Not one but 3 majors winter storms swept across the state of Iowa and surrounding states in less than 2 weeks time in December 1961.

The first storm arrived on Dec. 11-12th bringing with it heavy snow and strong northerly winds creating blizzard conditions which blocked the roads bringing travel to a standstill. The heaviest band of snowfall produced 10" to 15" from the southwest and south-central sections up to the northeast. After the storm on the morning of the 13th, temperatures fell to -26 at Oelwein and Waterloo (close to all-time December records).

The second storm swept through the state on the 16-17th dumping heavy snows in the northwest sections and a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the southeastern parts. Some of the heavier snowfall totals were 7.0" at Sibley and 8.1" at Sioux Rapids. The snow and ice made travel nearly impossible across most of the state.

The third and final storm was the worse of the three bringing heavy snowfall to most of the state around December 21st. A band of 6" or more occurred over the southwest, south-central, central and east-central sections. Some of the heavier 24 hour amounts were 13.8" at Guthrie Center, 13.0" at Osceola, 12.0" at Ankeny and 11.0" at Des Moines. Thunderstorms and strong northerly winds gusting over 40 mph accompanied the snow creating huge drifts.

Thousands of travelers abandoned their cars. One farmhouse near Bondurant took in 90 stranded travelers while another farmhouse near Griswold took in 57. Some schools were kept open to house the stranded students while others were sheltered at farms when their school bus became stuck. On the evening of the 22nd, some 10.000 cars were stalled on the streets of Des Moines. A total of 15 persons died on account of the storm and dozens more were injured. The month's greatest snowfall total was 29.0" at Osceola.

The Old Cherokee's snowfall formula that I wrote about last week was calculated using the date of the first snowfall plus the number of days since the New Moon. The secret is now in your hands.


Two of nature's signs I use during the month of December to make a short range forecast are frosts and the woodpeckers.

I have found that when you have a heavy morning frost the weather will stay dry during the day almost 95% of the time. If you notice that the woodpeckers are more noisier than usual, you will have precipitation within the next 24 hours almost 90% of the time. The woodpeckers that around here this time of the year are the Downy and the Hairy.

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


GIVE SANTA A BREAK! Christmas is less than a month away. Are you looking for something special for that hard to buy for person? Maybe you just want to treat yourself for being on the nice list! Well, here's an idea that can "give" any weather enthusiast a lifetime of pleasure. It's called WEATHER SCHOOL. What a person experiences and learns here will open up the world of forecasting for years of enjoyment to come. Consider giving the gift of weather. Better hurry, only 10 desks still open. You can get all the details below. is offering a very special and unique opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the Midwest 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! Roll weather...T. Swails

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