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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!


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.

ONLY 4 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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