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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!


What is largely considered the deadliest blizzard to ever hit the Plains and Midwest, occurred on Jan.12-14, 1888.

Also known as the Children's Blizzard, the storm swept down a wide area from Montana through the Dakota's, Minnesota, Nebraska and finally into Iowa. By the morning of the 13th the storm would claim 500 lives with over 100 of them being children who were caught in the blizzard trying to return home from school.

The storm described as a sooty, gray cloud several hundred feet high, rolled southeastward across the prairies at an incredible speed of 60 to 70 mph. It was a combination of snow, ice dust, hurricane force winds and rapidly falling temperatures,( in some cases, 18 degrees in 3 minutes). The snow and ice would clog one's eyes, ears and nose in an instant so that one could not see or breathe.

It was considered the most severe storm in history over north and west Iowa with numerous fatalities. It would have even been worse except for the fact that most people were at home as the blizzard swept in during the late afternoon and evening hours.

Near the town of Lester in N.W. Iowa, a farmer had stated the weather had been cloudy and mild with a little snow for most of the day. At 4:00 p.m. there was a roaring noise in the northwest like the sound of an approaching heavy loaded freight train. He watched the telegraph poles and fences, a half mile away, suddenly disappear. A tremendous bank of snow, ice and wind swept across the landscape. He barely made it to the house which was just several yards distant. It turned extremely cold. His neighbors to the N.E. lost both of his sons and 90 head of cattle which were down by the creek at the time.

At Schleswig in the northwest part of the state, the morning had been cloudy and mild with an ominous stillness in the air. Around 4:30 p.m. the storm swept in with an incredible speed and violence bringing enormous amounts of snow and ice driven by winds of hurricane velocity causing an instant whiteout. The temperatures fell 30 to 40 degrees in a short period of time. There were 15 foot drifts some of which would remain until spring.

The storm would hit Omaha at 4:17 p.m. and by 5:30 p.m.all streetcar traffic in the city would be halted by the deep drifts. No trains left the city that day.

The telegraph wires were down and not a word came or went from western Iowa. The Signal Corps observer at Des Moines stated that travel was almost entirely suspended and that the strong winds overnight of the 12th - 13th caused immense snowdrifts in the railroad cuts. The temperature fell 42 degrees in 16 hours. At Keokuk, the temperature had fallen 55 degrees in 8 hours.

In S.W. Minnesota, a farmer lost a large herd of Black Angus cattle during the blizzard. Later on he found them frozen extending along a line that stretched for 10 miles oriented from N.W. to S.E. just as the wind had blown. Their heads were anchored to the ground by globes of ice as large as bushel baskets formed from their congealed frozen breath.

The morning of the 15th was very cold across the state with lows of -43 at Cresco, -40 at at Glenwood, -32 at Ames, -31 at Dubuque, -30 at Muscatine, -27 at Des Moines, -25 at Davenport and -23 at Keokuk.


After doing some research I found that there is chance of precipitation, 74% of the time within 24 hours of the Last Quarter moon and there is a 81% chance of precipitation within 24 hours of the New Moon. The Last Quarter moon is on the 17th and the New Moon is on the 24th.

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

LAST THING, STILL 2 SPOTS AVAILABLE FOR WEATHER SCHOOL. A GREAT BUNCH OF FOLKS COMING ALONG WITH SOME TERRIFIC CASE STUDIES YOU WILL ENJOY, ESPECIALLY 2011, THE YEAR OF THE TORNADO. AN IN DEPTH LOOK AT THE SUPER OUTBREAK OF APRIL 27TH IN ALABAMA AND THE JOPLIN TORNADO WHICH TOOK THE LIVES OF 160. YOU WANT TO LEARN WEATHER, YOU WANT TO BE HERE. GET THE DETAILS BELOW... 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. Along with a WEATHER SCHOOL admittance voucher, TSwails will send a special 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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