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December has been a real peach across my area and much of the central Midwest. Temperatures have been well above normal, especially the past week with some areas going over 60 on Christmas Day, making it the warmest on record in many parts of eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Here are the December departures as of the 26th across the Midwest. My area is running about 5 degrees above normal

The other big facet of our weather has been the lack of storminess. So far in Cedar Rapids we've had just .12" of an inch of precipitation and less than an inch of snow. Some of the December precipitation deficits have reached 1.50 inches. That may not seem like much but that's huge considering it's about as low as you can go.

This perspective is centered on Iowa and the greatest departures show up over EC and far SE portions of the state.

Finally the pattern is showing some signs of waking up and turning more active as the New Year approaches The first in what looks to be a series of systems is due in over the weekend. A very impressive upper air disturbance is shown carving out a healthy trough.across the central U.S. Saturday.

This is going to open up the Gulf of Mexico sending anomalously high moisture levels into the mid-section. PWAT's (water vapor) are shown to be 400 percent above the norms.

This all leads to a strong surface cyclone the tracks towards WC Iowa Saturday night

With nice dynamics and a sharp baroclinic boundary showers and even thunderstorms are expected in the warm sector which includes my area. For the first time in weeks significant precipitation should be widespread. Where thunderstorms fire, locally heavy rains greater than an inch are possible. The GFS has this for total precipitation. The NW half of Iowa closer to the best dynamics could see 2 to as much as 3 inches of rain.

The EURO has this for total precipitation.

With little cold air to work with the heavier snows will fall well to the northwest of my area. Parts of South and North Dakota could see more than a foot.

As the storm cuts west it will also send another surge of warm air into the Midwest. Highs could again reach well into the 50s (maybe 60 in the far south) Saturday. Look at these departures...35 degrees above normal.

As the storm passes temperatures will crash Sunday afternoon and night as brisk west winds follow the cold front. By Sunday night temperatures will be 25-30 degrees colder.

Monday wind chills will be well into the teens and that will be the end of this little party.

Again, if the long range date holds it does appear a couple more systems could follow but not until a few days after New Years. That's when there could also be some opportunity for snow. That though is a ways down the road and phasing and track will play a big role in who gets what and when. The way this erratic pattern is behaving I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. That's it for now. Roll weather...TS

A FEW WEATHER SCHOOL SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE... 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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