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 regularly right
here on TSwails.com. Take it away Steve!
IOWA'S DEADLIEST "JULY" TORNADO:
On July 6, 1893, the weather was close and sultry across the state and the temperature had risen to 90 degrees by early afternoon. At 4 p.m. a heavy thunderstorm formed off to the W/NW. in Cherokee county. The center of the cloud bank took on a green color as it approached.
At 5 p.m., a tornado formed in south central Cherokee County moving towards the east. It's path was 15 degrees south of east as it headed towards Pomeroy in Calhoun County. It would lift 4 miles east of town, a track of some 55 miles. For the first 18 miles of it's existence the tornado would lift at frequent intervals but after passing Storm Lake it would remain on the ground for the rest of the time carving a path of destruction from 250 to 600 yards wide. Multiple funnels were observed for 20 to 25 miles of the storm which lasted for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
One witness described the storm as one cloud coming from the N.W. joining up with another coming from the S.W. When they met, one large mass of clouds descended to the ground in a violent, whirling motion with 4 twisting and swaying funnels.
The storm picked up the 120 foot long Pilot Rock bridge, tearing it from it's abutments dropping it length-wise into the river. As it passed over Storm Lake it lifted the water of the lake 100 feet into the air and wrecking a steamboat.
The water on the north shore of the lake receded rapidly leaving bare ground. After the storm passed the water rushed back like a small tidal wave.
Along the track of the tornado there were live chickens completely stripped of their feathers. At one farm 2 horses were picked up with one deposited in a tree and the other one was tossed over a grove of trees into an adjoining field. At another farm, a solid iron reaper was carried away a half mile distant and a board was firmly embedded halfway into a tree, edgewise.
The town of Pomeroy, which was home to 1,000 inhabitants took a direct hit at 6:45 p.m. Twenty of it's 30 city blocks were swept away. A full 80% of it's homes were destroyed. The wrecked schoolhouse's bell which weighed 200 to 300 pounds was found 2 blocks away. The fact that there were many storm caves in town, saved many more lives.
The tornado took 49 lives in Pomeroy and the total number of deaths for the 4 counties it passed through was 71 with another 200 injured. The tornado was rated later on as an F5. The total damage was estimated at $400,000.
TALK ABOUT A LARGE TEMPERATURE SWING?
On the morning of July 7, 1984, Elkader recorded a frosty 35 degrees and the very next day (8th), Shenandoah soared to a high of 100.
SPIDER WEBS AND WINTER SNOW:
I have observed quite a few small spider webs in the grass this month, more than normal. The weather folklore states that when you have many spider webs in the grass in the summer, there will be above normal snowfall for the winter. The past 2 summers has seen more than the usual number of spider webs and above normal snowfall for both of those winters. We will see if this winter will make it 3 in a row?
That's all for this edition...on the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk