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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 record breaking snowstorm swept across the state from March 4-6, 1959. Light snow began falling during the morning hours of the 4th in western Iowa and spread rapidly eastward across the state.

The snow intensified and became heavy during the evening of the 4th, continuing through the 5th and didn't end until the morning hours of the 6th in eastern sections of the state. The storm grew progressively worse as it moved eastward.

This March classic developed from the Rockies into the Texas Panhandle on March 4, moved to southwestern Missouri near Springfield on the 5th, then took a sharp left turn to southern Lake Michigan, as the upper low supporting it "closed off" and intensified over the Mid-Mississippi Valley. On the morning of March 6, a deep low with a pressure of 29.20 inches of mercury (988mb) was situated over the southwest corner of Lower Michigan.

The surface map

The 500mb upper air charts, March 5th on the left, March 6th on the right.

The central sections of the state generally received from 6" to 10" of snow while the eastern sections received 12" to 20". The heaviest band of snow ran along a line from Appanoose county up through Tama county and into Allamakee county. Some of the heavier totals were:

Waterloo - 12.9"

Decorah - 14.5"

Oelwein - 16.0"

Dubuque - 17.6"

Marshalltown - 19.8" (17.0" fell in 24 hours)

Fayette - 22.0" (21.0" fell in 24 hours)

The winds steadily increased throughout the duration of the storm with gusts from 30 to 50 mph. There was extensive blowing and drifting of the snow with drifts of 6 to 10 feet being common and drifts of 15 to 20 feet in the N.E. sections.

All traffic came to a halt with some cars being completely covered by the snow. Many vehicles became stranded with the Des Moines area, which received 9.4" of snow, alone, having an estimated 20,000 abandoned cars. The Girls State Basketball tournament was going on at the time with West Central Maynard playing Gladbrook. Many of the 8,000 attending spent the night on bleachers in Veterans Auditorium with the roads out of Des Moines closed by the storm.

Many businesses and schools were closed across the state with some school buses stranded with dozens of children on board. One farm family near Vinton, sheltered and fed 63 students. Near Plano, a woman gave birth in one of the stranded vehicles.

The storm resulted in 19 deaths and dozens of injuries.


On March 2, 1904 a strong cold front swept across the state with a dramatic fall in temperatures. At Ogden in central Iowa, the temperature fell from an afternoon high of 72 degrees on the 2nd down to 1 degree on the morning of the 3rd, a drop of 71 degrees in 17 hours.


The Full Worm Moon is on the 9th. It was given this name by the Native Americans as it was the time when the first worm castings were seen on the ground. My research has shown that there is a 77% chance of some form of precipitation within 24 hours of the full moon.


There is an old weather saying that goes - "In a Leap Year the weather always changes on Friday's". I checked this out for the 9 Fridays we have had so far this year and found that we have had some type of a change be it temperatures, wind direction or precipitation on all 9 of them. Will have to keep track of this as the year progresses.


I did some checking on Leap Year winters and found that since 1960, they tend to be milder with less snowfall, much like this one.

That's all for this edition! On the "WILD" side of weather I'm Steve Gottschalk.

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