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Friday was just a splendid day of weather for those of us living in the central Midwest. Highs from north to south were in the range of 55-60 degrees. Temperatures near St. Louis were around 75 with a few spots just south of there reaching 80 degrees! That's what I call bonus weather.

This caps off a spectacular two week run of weather where highs in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities have averaged 50 degrees per day.

The core of the warmth has been focused on the central Plains where highs have averaged 10-15 degrees above the norms over that same period.

This is a trend that goes back to June. Below you can see how much of the nation has experienced above normal readings the start of August.

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As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and the painful process of transition gets underway tomorrow and is fully inflicted Monday when a powerful cold front will snap the flag poles delivering much colder air. Below you can see Saturday's noontime temperatures area a good 10-20 degrees colder across the board. That will keep highs in the range of 40-45 degrees. Still not bad but noticeable.

The knock out punch comes Sunday when a clipper cuts across Minnesota delivering an old fashioned haymaker. Ahead of the system, highs will rebound a bit from Saturday reaching 45-55 degrees on brisk south winds. Enough moisture will make into the area ahead of the front and its forcing for clouds and some widely scattered showers, especially near and east of the Mississippi where the moisture is a bit more robust. As you can see, the EURO is more aggressive than the GFS in terms of rainfall.



As for the cold front, it's a doozy and come noon Monday readings are in the low to mid 20s except in the far south. The cold air aloft will create enough instability for scattered snow showers or flurries.

Making the cold far more significant will be a tight pressure gradient that could send wind gusts over 40 mph. The generates wind chills of 5 to 15 degrees. It will not be a pleasant day!

This graphic from the NWS in the Quad Cities shows the wind potential Sunday night and Monday


With a deep layer of cold air in place the next system appears to have the makings of a light over-running snow event Tuesday. Modeling has been quite inconsistent in the strength and placement of any snow. The GFS and Canadian GEM have been especially erratic. It appears that they are struggling to achieve saturation due to very dry air. They have little if any snow as a result. The EURO though has shown the least deviation the past 3 days and I feel it may have a better handle on the dynamics. As such I am leaning its way for now but with lower confidence than I would like to see. Here's what the latest models are showing for potential accumulations. 3 significantly different solutions.



The Canadian GEM

I guess we'll see where things stand tomorrow as we are still a good 3 days away.

Another far more dynamic system is due into the region towards the end of next week. The GFS and GEM put us in the warm sector and make it a rain producer. The EURO has consistently maintained colder temperatures and delivers a snow event. No sense in splitting hairs over this set-up which is a week out. For what it's worth the EURO indicates this for snow out of that system.

Way down the road, there is still plenty of potential for cold air in January, something I continue to follow. In his second addition on cold January's in Iowa, Steve Gottschalk (celebrating 60 years of weather observations) has compiled this interesting list of chilling January's followed by some of his always interesting observations & folklore.

Our Coldest Januaries Part 2-by Steve Gottschalk

January of 1881

Jan, 9th - at Vail the morning low was -40, the high was -10.

Jan. 10th - some morning lows, Clinton -26, Iowa City -24, and Dubuque was down to -25 with 100's of sparrows frozen to death.

Jan. 13th - the steady cold continues.

Jan. 15th - the heavy snow began falling last evening and continued until forenoon of today, 14" fell in 12 hours on top of the 6". The snow depth on the level in the timber is now 20".

Jan. 20th - it is still cold and the sleighing is excellent. The temps. have not been above 32 degrees since Christmas. No January thaw yet.

Jan. 27th - still plenty of snow and cold.

Jan. 31st - this evening, strong winds and the snow drifted badly. The average monthly temp. was 9.6 degrees. Some monthly snowfall totals- Nora Springs 20", Clinton 17" and Muscatine 16". The snow on the ground at the month's end was from a trace to 20". The ice on the Mississippi River at Dubuque 18" to 32" thick, Clinton 24" to 30" and at Keokuk on the 17th had teams crossing on the ice.

January of 1883

Jan. 9th - the morning temp. at Dubuque was -22, heavy snow began falling this evening and continued until this morning (10th) as an old fashioned blizzard. At Dubuque all incoming trains delayed by snowdrifts.

Jan. 14th - the morning low was around -20.

Jan. 16th - Dubuque, the railroad travel is still impeded by snowdrifts.

Jan. 18th - the snow cover is 1 foot deep with an ice foundation underneath, it's snowing every 3rd or 4th day now.

Jan. 19th-20th - the snowdrifts are delaying the railroad travel.

Jan. 22nd - owing to the extreme temperatures(-26), the trains from the north are delayed 5 hours, it's impossible to keep up the steam. The stock suffered severely in the county, many cases of freezing reported. Nearly all outdoor work is suspended.

Jan. 23rd - the morning lows the past 5 days from -25 to -30, didn't get above 0 on any of these days. There was a driving N.W. wind and most of the time carrying a fine cloud of snow which effectively blocked the north and south roads and the railroads for several days.

Jan. 30th - a bitterly cold wind drifted the snow blocking the roads and railroads again.

Jan. 31st - it was one of the severest days of the winter to be out on the road as all who tried will testify. The average monthly temp. was 8.0 degrees. Davenport's coldest reading was -23, Dubuque -26, and Guttenberg -38. Some of the snowfall totals were Des Moines 23", Dubuque 23", Muscatine 16", Clinton 14", Cedar Rapids 10.75" and Davenpot 10.5". Snow on the ground at the month's end was from 1" to 20". The ice on the river at Clinton was from 20" to 26" and at Muscatine was 20".

January of 1885

Jan. 6th - Dubuque the trains from the west delayed by the storm, on the 12th no trains arrived on account of the heavy snowfall of the 11th, the severest storm began during early morning of the 16th and continued until 9:15 p.m., the drifting snow delayed the eastbound trains for 3 to 8 hours. The Illinois Central railroad was completely blocked with snow beyond Waterloo. Travel was suspended. On the 17th all trains were late. It was below 0 all day on the 19th and 21st with work on cutting ice suspended.

Davenport - snow fell on the 14th, 15th and 16th. The last date was the heaviest storm of the season and caused serious interruption to the railroad travel, the freight trains were discontinued and passenger trains ran with difficulty. On the 17th all trains were from 1 to 5 hours late experiencing much difficulty.

Jan. 28th - Muscatine's low was -34.5. Other low temps. were Humboldt -42, Cedar Rapids -30, Guttenberg -39 and Mt. Vernon -27.

Jan. 31st - the average monthly temp. was 9.4 degrees. Some monthly snowfall totals were Ottumwa 27", Muscatine 22.7", Davenport 16.9", Clinton 14", Cedar Rapids 15" and Dubuque 10.9". The snow on the ground at month's end was from 2.5" to 25".

January of 1886

Tipton a blizzard began on the 7th with gale force winds, heavy snow and very low temps. and continued into the 8th.

At Marshalltown the afternoon storm of the 8th was the most severe that has been experienced in 25 years with temps. from -27 to -32, all trains were snowed in.

At Mt. Pleasant a violent wind and snowstorm occurred on the 7th-8th, the snow drifted badly which caused interruption in the running of trains. The heavy snowfall of the 21st-22nd caused a blockade of the railroad , worse than anytime this winter.

Jan. 22-23rd - before daybreak a howling northerly wind set in and kept up all day, the temp. this evening down to -25. The wind kept up all night and didn't diminish until this morning, the roads were blocked and the railroad tracks drifted shut delaying the trains.

At Oskaloosa there were reports from various parts of the state that from the 7th - 11th about 20 lives and a large amount of stock were lost on account of the extreme cold.

At Sioux City the high winds and extreme cold were "unprecedented", all trains were practically abandoned.

At Hamburg a heavy blizzard on the 8th, trains were abandoned and much damage to the stock.

Hancock County - the storm of the 7th-9th halted all travel with a young teacher frozen 0.5 mile from her home coming from school.

Algona -a woman and 2 children were caught in the open and froze to death.

At Britt a Milwaukee Road passenger train was snowbound near Britt for nearly 5 days.

Jan, 31st - the average monthly temp. was 8.1 degrees. Some of the colder temps. were Cresco -33, Mt. Vernon -30, Cedar Rapids and Monticello -28. Some of the snowfall totals were Des Moines 37", Muscatine 23.5", Cedar Rapids 20.8", Dubuque 18.5" and Davenport 15". Snow on the ground at month's end was from 0.1" to 30". The Mississippi River was frozen at Dubuque all month and at Davenport from the 9th to 31st.

January of 1887

Jan. 1-2nd - severe cold, the morning low was -25.

Jan. 7th - a very cold morning with lows of -32 at Dubuque and -26 at Davenport.

Jan. 16th - the worst storm of the season began this evening with extremely cold temps. and a fearful wind that caused considerable blowing and drifting of the snow.

Jan. 17th the weather is still very cold, the strong winds continue with the snowdrifts as hard as sand blocking the roads and railroad tracks delaying the trains and mail for a day.

Jan. 31st - the average monthly temp. was 8.8 degrees. Some of the colder temps. were -34 at Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Monticello -32, Muscatine -30 and Independence -28. Some monthly snowfall totals were Dubuque 20.3" and Cedar Rapids 11". The snow on the ground at month's end was from Dubuque's 15.9" to Davenport's 3". The Mississippi River was frozen all month at Dubuque and Davenport.

January of 1888

Jan. 5th - the past week saw storms of snow, wind and colder temperatures.

Jan. 10th - the average temperature the past 10 days was well below 0 with plenty of ice and snow.

Jan. 12th - a storm of wind and snow began today and continued through the 14th, all roads, streets, and railroads were completely blocked, no trains were running for the first time in 9 years.

Keokuk - the temp. was 30 degrees at 7:30 p.m. (12th), the wind shifted at midnight blowing a gale of 36 mph, the temp. fell rapidly and by 8 a.m. of the 13th had fallen 55 degrees in 8 hours. The temp. fell from 45 to -13.

Des Moines - 13th, a high wind from last night til 6 a.m. today, immense snowdrifts in the railroad cuts. The temp. fell 42 degrees in 16 hours.

Western Iowa 12th, 4:30 p.m. hurricane force winds, 15 foot drifts and the temp. down to -42.

Lester (Lyon county) the storm hit with a tremendous bank of snow and ice, the wind sounded like a freight train coming from the N.W., a farmer lost 2 sons and 85 head of cattle during the storm. This was known as the Schoolchildren's Blizzard which caused quite a few fatalities in the state.

Jan. 15th - a very cold morning with lows of -32 at Cedar Rapids and Tipton, Clinton -31, Maquoketa -35, Muscatine -30, Dubuque -31, Cresco -43 and Davenport -25.

Jan. 17th - the roads are drifted so bad that the farmers can't get to town.

Jan. 21st - at Iowa City the average temp. of -4 degrees from the 11th -20th was one of the coldest periods on record.

Jan. 31st - the average monthly temp. was 5.4 degrees. Some monthly snowfall totals were 15" in Cedar County, Des Moines 14", West Bend 16.9" and Davenport 11.4". The Mississippi River was frozen all month from Keokuk north.

Some Weather Forecasting Clues

If you watch the jet contrails they can give you clues to the upcoming weather. If they disappear quickly that means that the air is dry in the upper atmosphere and that the weather will remain dry. If they are numerous and linger with them spreading out that means the atmosphere is moistening up and there will be a change in the weather be it a wind shift, a change in the temperature and possibly some precipitation.

If you have a heavy frost in the morning there is a very good chance that the day will stay dry, especially if the wind is in the northwest, north or the west.

Last but not least, I was looking up other years that are similar to where we are now with 7 of the past 11 days having 50 degree temps. and found 6 of them. 4 of those years had a normal to colder than normal winter yet. Even during an La Nina

Thank you Steve, and thank you all for taking the time to make TSwails a part of your day. Until next time, roll weather...TS


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