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Happy New Year everybody! Here we are entering the coldest time of the year and there's one thing missing, cold air. When I was in elementary school and junior high I remember some wickedly cold starts to the new year. About all you could do as was sit inside and watch the bowl games, most of which were played on New Years day in the late 60s and early 70s. :Later on I vividly remember trying to drive home in a vicious wind driven snowstorm New Years Eve 1978. About a foot of snow was blown into some mean drifts that my old Buick Le Sabre had to buck head on. We got stuck a couple times but thanks to a car full of people and some kind strangers we finally made it home. The trip should have taken 15 minutes but it tool us closer to 1.5 hours. This old clipping of that storm is from the Quad City Times New Years Day edition 1979.

The following January (1979) turned into one of the worst in modern times for winter weather. Much of my area had 25-35 inches of snow that month. In the Quad Cities a record 26.7" piled up on top of the 10" that fell December 31st. The morning of January 19th, a 28" snow depth was measured which is a record that still stands today. Just as bad, the average temperature of 6.3 made it the coldest January on record.

The big event was the blizzard that hit the 15th. That produced 18.4" in the Quad Cities and closed I-80 and I-74 and most other major arteries from Des Moines to Chicago. These pictures were taken in the Quad Cities following the storm.

This shot is from Chicago where more than 20 inches accumulated.

When the thaw finally came, we all were glad to say we survived the winter of 1979, which really kicked in on New Years Eve of 1978.

Well today, January 1st of 2020, the weather is quiet and temperatures will be mild. Under sunny skies highs should reach the low to mid 40s in most of my area. Another system is possible towards Friday but recent runs have shown less phasing and more of a southerly track that keeps the rain and snow just to my southeast. Barring a shift back to the north in the next 24 hours, this will likely have limited impacts compared to what had been advertised the past couple of days.

For those of you (like me) who are looking for some snow, the ensembles of the EURO and GFS are showing it in the next 2 weeks. Unfortunately, they have been on this kick the past few days and then lose the system or track it somewhere else. I'll show you what they have for snow but my confidence remains low. This is not a forecast, just model guidance which has been far from reliable at this range in recent times. Got it!



With that I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! Roll weather..TS

A FEW SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE FOR WEATHER SCHOOL... 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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