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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 14, 1905 a thunderstorm moved through Indianola, Iowa during the Warren County Fair. A bolt of lightning struck the center pole of a large tent filled with spectators. Tragically, four persons were killed and several more were injured.


On September 15th, 1881, a low pressure system moved northward over the Chicago area and then turned west and stalled over Iowa on the 16th drawing unseasonably cold air into the state. Rain had fallen all day on the 15th and then began to mix with snow at times, over the northwest 2/3's of the state by the morning of the 16th.

Sibley and Sac City in northwest Iowa reported snow all day but it didn't accumulate. The observer in Algona reported 4.0" of snow falling from 8-11 a.m. breaking tree branches but it was all gone by noon. McGregor in northeast Iowa reported snow and at Creston the snow was quite heavy. Several inches of snow fell between Des Moines and Atlantic. At Stuart and Avoca, in Pottawattamie County, 4" to 6" of snow fell.

This undoubtedly was Iowa's earliest recorded snowfall.


After going through my records I have found that out of the past 10 years, 6 of those Decembers had below normal snowfall with 3 of those occurring during the past 3 years. So with the Climate Prediction Center (and Terry agreeing), that a La Nina this winter is coming, I decided to check out the relationship between La Nina's and December snowfall.

I used December's with 12.0" or more of snow for my study. There were 23 years that met this criteria going back to 1960. I found that 61% of them occurred during a La Nina, 35% during an El Nino and 4% during a neutral phase. Since 2000, 87% of them occurred during a La Nina and 13% during an El Nino.

I looked at the December temperatures too, and found 86% of the cold ones occur during a La Nina. Since 2000 the percentages were the same.


During the past decade (2010-2019), our Septembers are tending to be wetter again and this month is off to a wetter start with Lowden having 4.76" already. Below are my average monthly rainfall totals for September for each decade. As you can see they were steadily declining up through 2009.

1960-69 - 4.63"

1970-79 - 4.43"

1980-89 - 3,55"

1990-99 - 2.95"

2000-09 - 2.87"

2010-19 - 4.11"


The average monthly temperature for the period 1960-1999 was 63.1 degrees but since 2000, the monthly average jumped to 64.3 an increase of 1.2 degrees.

Well, that it for another edition. On the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk.