© 2019 Terry Swails

STEVE'S "WILD" WORLD OF WEATHER...

February 14, 2020

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 TSwails.com. Take it away Steve!

 

FEBRUARY 1929, EXCEPTIONALLY COLD AND SNOWY:

 

When the month of February arrived in 1929, the entire state of Iowa  was covered with a thick blanket of snow,  Some areas had over 2 feet on the ground with a rather heavy and hard crust. Most of the snow that ended up falling during the month was light and dry, so it moved around freely with any sort of a wind. As a result all the cuts in the drifts were continuously filled following the numerous storms.

 

It required a constant  effort to keep travel on the main highways and railways open but at times it was necessary to suspend all travel temporarily. No part of the state was free from drifts and in many localities where conditions were favorable, there were drifts more than 15 feet deep.

Efforts were made to keep only the main highways open and practically all less traveled roads were closed during the month. Even on the main highways it was necessary to detour around some drifts that could not be kept open.

 

The branch lines of the railroads were forced to suspend operations many times during the month and it was necessary to bring in supplies to the small towns by sled. Rural mail delivery was almost impossible; some places had no mail for as much as 2 weeks and all deliveries on rural routes were curtailed. Since there was no mail there was an enormous increase in the use of long distance telephone services.

 

The heaviest snowfall of the month was from the 24th-26th which was sufficient to completely block all traffic for a time. In one case it took 3 huge locomotives to move 5 rail cars at a very slow rate. In some cities it was impossible to keep the streets clear with the snow on many streets becoming a solid mass of ice. The damage to the streets and the cost of snow removal amounted to several million dollars. The accumulated snow caused many roofs to collapse and many others were damaged.

 

The livestock was on heavy feed at all times and it was very difficult to haul hay to the stock sheds. Birds that were not fed suffered further loss. Rabbits severely injured the fruit trees.

 

The state's average temperature was 8.6 degrees below normal. Some of the colder readings were:

 Decorah  -35

 Fayette   -33

 Maquoketa & Olin  -32

 

 The average state snowfall was 5.5" above normal. Some of the heavier amounts were:

 Iowa Falls - 27.8"

 Webster City - 25.2"

 Hampton - 22.0"

 

In Illinois it was the coldest February since 1914. Some of the colder readings were -30 at Mt. Carroll and -26 at Freeport. Both of which were records for the month. Northern parts of the state had 30" of frost in the ground.

 

In Wisconsin the temperatures averaged 5.6 degrees below normal. Some of the colder readings were -34 at Oshkosh, -32 at Prairie du Chien and -27 at LaCrosse.

 

FEBRUARY LAST QUARTER MOON AND PRECIPITATION:

 

My research has shown that the chance of receiving any precipitation around the last quarter moon is 55%. The last quarter moon is on the 15th.

 

VALENTINE'S DAY WEATHER:

 

Some of the old weather folklore sayings for this special day are:

 

Spring is a near neighbor on Valentine's Day.

 

Winter breaks her back on St. Valentine's Day.

 

I have found that there is a 38% chance of precipitation that day; the day is cloudy 50% of the time and clear 40% of the time; the wind direction is N.W. 37% of the time and S. 20% of the time.

 

The old almanac's forecast for Valentine's Day 100 years ago was "mild for the season, perhaps some rain."

 

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

 

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