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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 regularly right

here on Take it away Steve!


On September 1, 1897 a very severe hailstorm occurred in and around Washington County including the towns of Kalona, Riverside and Sharon Center.

The hail was piled into drifts in the ditches and gullies to a depth of 6 feet in places. In some areas the strong winds blew the hail into the sides of the buildings.

An observer at Kalona wrote "the hail lasted for 20 minutes and nearly all of the windows on the west and north sides of the homes were broken in".

Another observer stated that the hailstorm left a tract 60 miles long by 2 or 3 miles wide with scarcely a stalk of corn was left standing along with hundreds of windmills wrecked. There was destruction of glass on the north windows to hundreds of homes and thousands of chickens and turkeys were killed. The orchards, vineyards and gardens were wrecked along with damage to barns. One half or more of the corn crop is a total loss with most of the stalks, ears and blades being torn off and rotting on the ground.

A local newspaper reported that several farm buildings were damaged or destroyed by the high winds and hail. One resident, Howard Jeffrey of Highland township, was struck in the head by a hailstone and knocked senseless.

The storm totally destroyed 40,000 acres of corn and half of another 70,000 acres was damaged. The loss was over $500,000.


From all of my years of weather observing I didn't enter a comment on a sky hazy with smoke until August 31, 1988 when smoke from the Yellowstone National Park's forest fire swept across the state. That was also the summer of extreme heat and drought in Iowa.

It would be July 28-31, 1994 before the smoke returned and then again on July 6, 1995.

The other years we had smoke was Aug. 24-29, 2000; June 27-28, 2002; July 18, 2004; July 19-20 and Aug. 2, 2014; July 1-8 and Aug. 30-31, 2015; Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 4, 13, 14 of 2017; Aug. 11-14, 18-19 of 2018; June 1-3 and July 23-24, 2019 and Aug. 23-26, 2020.

The smoke has originated from forest fires and wildfires in the western U.S., Alaska and Canada. We have had smokey skies in 6 of the last 7 years with 4 years in a row now. It seems that this is the new normal.


If the storms in September clear off warm, all of the storms of the following winter will do the same.

When a cold spell occurs in September and passes without a frost, a frost will not occur until the same time in October.

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

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