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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 week right

here on Take it away Steve!


A heavy snowstorm that swept an area from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois on Dec. 27-28, 1863 would set the stage for an even more potent storm a couple of days later.

The snowfall amounts from the first storm ranged from 8" to 12" in northern Missouri to generally 12" in southeastern Iowa. The Muscatine area came in with the most with 15.5" of wet, heavy snow in a 12 hour period that caused some tree damage. The amounts were less the further west you went with Algona receiving 5.5".

On the morning of the 29th the much colder air was poised over northern Iowa with the temperatures ranging from -1 in Charles City to 27 degrees in Muscatine.

The colder air had settled farther south across the state by the morning of the 30th. Charles City would see a high of 2 and a low of -8 while Muscatine had a high of 10 and a low of 2 degrees. The snow would begin falling by the evening hours. On the morning of the 31st, Muscatine had a reading of 2 degrees with heavy snow falling and a gale force wind. Just to the northeast at Lyons, which is near Clinton, the observer noted a 7:00 a.m. temperature of -4 with heavy snow and a N.W. gale blowing. By noon the temperature had fallen to -20 degrees. At Charles City the high was -8 and the low was -24 degrees.

On New Year's Day, the Smithsonian weather observer at Fort Madison noted that it was the most severe storm since he began keeping records back in 1839.

In Muscatine County at least 100 head of cattle had died from the severe weather along with many sheep. Two wolves came into Muscatine during the storm.

At Sterling, Illinois, pigs, sheep, calves, quail and prairie chickens froze to death in considerable numbers and the wind blew a perfect gale all day.

The first day of the new year saw a high of -21 and a low of -25 at Charles City and Waterloo was even colder with a high of -20 and a low of -30.

A Tipton,Iowa a Cedar County newspaper had this to say on Jan. 4th, 1864 - The farmers and townspeople were trying to open the roads. The railroads were blocked during the storm. Most of the townspeople were out of wood and there was no flour to be had as the mills were all frozen up. Some of the older citizens said it was the worst winter weather in years. There is over 30" of snow on the level. The average temperature for the past four days had been ten degrees below zero.


If the water drips from the eaves of a house on New Year's Day, an excellent crop year is indicated.

Wind in the south on New Year's Day means a dry summer; wind in the north, a wet summer.


I did some research to see what January's temperatures would be like based on the top ten warmest Decembers. Historically speaking, 60% of the Januaries were warmer. Since 2000, January was warmer 83% of the time.


At the end of December I will have 58 years of weather observing for my hometown of Lowden. I have taken over 181,700 sets of weather observations and recorded more than 1,450,000 bits of weather data since I started when I was 8 years old. What a trip it has been!

That's all for now. On the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

I will also add how lucky we are to have Steve and his knowledge of all things weather here at! Roll weather...TS

JUST A HANDFULL OF WEATHER SCHOOL SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE...GET YOURS NOW!... 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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