top of page
thumbnail_1 ts baner, future in your hands.png


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!


One of the most noteworthy blizzards early in Iowa state history occurred on January 7-9, 1873. The storm was especially severe across northern sections of Iowa and southern Minnesota. The area of northwest Iowa was sparsely settled at the time and there were still large tracts of prairie between the settlements.

The weather leading up to this event had seen a good deal of snow and temperatures as cold as -20 to -30 on New Year's Day and -25 to -35 on the 4th. The morning of January 7th began on a sunny note with the prospects for a beautiful day in the offing. Many of the settlers decided to either travel to the nearest town or visit with their nearby neighbors. What a mistake that would be.

According to written accounts, a wall of ominous, black clouds advanced rapidly from the northwest. The storm reached N.W. Iowa by midday and it it hit the northeastern parts of the state some 4 hours later. The strong N.W. winds increased almost instantly along with heavy falling snow and the temperatures fell rapidly to -15 degrees.

The visibility dropped to just a few feet disorienting the returning travelers and they soon lost their way. The storm continued unabated for 3 days before finally diminishing on the 9th.

An Emmett County supervisor was heading to his home in Estherville when he got caught in the storm. He was within a half-mile when he turned off the road and got lost. They found him later on, frozen solid in a field several miles away.

A married couple from Howard County along with their two children were returning home from their neighbors less than a mile away. The blinding, drifting snow caused their horses to get stuck in a drift and flounder. The father took one of the children and set out on foot arriving at their home safely then returned for his wife and other child. They never made it back. All three were found later on frozen under the snow.

There were many similar stories throughout the region. It was thought that over 100 persons perished in the storm. Some of the bodies wouldn't be found until several months later. The storm produced 5 to 15 foot drifts that blocked the railroads and there were no mails for several days. All business was temporarily suspended.

On January 16th the Cedar County newspaper had stated the weather has been very cold this past week and some of the roads were still impassable.


There is an old weather saying that goes: "When the wind is in the east, it's neither good for man nor beast."

Doing some research for the month of January I found that there is precipitation when the wind is from the east - 79% of the time; when it is from the southeast - 65% of the time and when it is from the northeast - 71% of the time.


The full moon arrives on the 10th this month. I went through my 60 years worth of January data and found that there is a 77% chance of seeing some precipitation within a 24 hour period of the full moon.

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