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Well folks, I'm here to tell you the atmosphere has been in a state of turmoil recently producing what I would call some "unique" weather events. Saturday was a little harsh with (April) snow showers falling much of the day here in Dubuque. I snapped this shot around noon as I was passing down a street in Dubuque. Some big honking flakes for a time with 1/2 mile visibility, certainly impressive for April 22nd.

Sunday night the skies cleared just in time for a view of the northern lights thanks to a strong solar flare. The Aurora shots were captured near DeWitt by a friend of mine who happens to be a forecaster at the NWS in the Quad Cities. Nothing like the northern lights to turn an ordinary cold Sunday night into a spectacular one.

The Borealis Sunday night was followed up by these temperatures early Monday. At 6:00am frosty readings more typical of December were noted around the region.

The final numbers reveal a low of 26 in Dubuque, 27 in Davenport, and 23 in Waterloo. As far south as Muscatine readings dipped as low as 25. While not records, many spots were within a few degrees of attaining one. A hard freeze to be sure!

Snow showers, unusually cold temperatures, and the Aurora, that's a pretty good 48 hour period of atmospheric phenomena. At least I can appreciate it the rarity...



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The weather powers remain in a foul mood and that means we're in for more of this chilly unsettled weather at least into early May. Short term, a channeled vorticity max that's been steaming southeast overnight in the strong 500mb circulation over the Great Lakes has produced rain showers over far SE Iowa and WC Illinois. A few lingering showers could still reside in my southern counties early Tuesday before departing. Otherwise, a mixture of sun and clouds will rule our skies the rest of the day. It will be another cool one with highs in 50s in most areas, maybe 60 in the far south.

Tuesday night the stage is set for another cold night. Clear skies and light NE winds will allow temperatures to fall below freezing near and north of I-80. The NWS has issued a freeze watch for lows in the upper 20s to low 30s across that region. Further south 33-37 looks more likely. Probably not a freeze but certainly plenty of frost.

Late this week we'll see the best weather conditions of the next 10 days with highs back in the range of 62-67 Thursday and 64-69 Friday. That's pretty close to normal. Clouds will be in the increase Friday but indications are that any showers remain off to the west.

Things do go downhill again over the weekend with a complex interaction of energy that produces another closed upper air low like the one we just dealt with. The biggest issue with the system is the amount of phasing that takes place and where. That will dictate the amount of precipitation we have to contend with. The GFS bundles the energy of the northern and southern stream in time to inject moisture into the system generating a healthy precipitation field, especially in the southern parts of my area. The EURO though is slower to pull things together and keeps rainfall much lighter and showery. Here's the difference between the two in terms of the rainfall they suggest.



My thinking is the less phased idea of the EURO will win the day. Still watching the trends to tighten this part of the forecast up due to concerns with additional rainfall on top of the snowmelt crest moving through the Mississippi this weekend. The drier idea of the EURO would be favorable to keep crests from rising any higher than currently anticipated. These are the latest NWS projections for river crests in my area.

What models do agree on in the bigger picture is the formation of another deep closed 500mb low over the central Midwest in the long range period starting this weekend. Cut-off from the westerlies, the low only inches eastward the duration of next week. The cold core center will ensure steep laps rates with plenty of clouds, wind, and far below normal temperatures. As with last Saturday, there may be a time this coming Saturday night or Sunday when snow showers (or a rain snow mix) could return to the area. Especially vulnerable to any snow showers is my northern counties. Both the GFS and EURO are hinting at that possibility showing this for snow by early Sunday in NE Iowa.



I personally doubt any place sees anything more than a dusting but with 850 temperatures of -6C snow showers could have a convective structure that would draw snowflakes to the surface even with temperatures in the low 40s. This should not be a big deal other than the fact it occurs a day away from the start of May. Something to watch.

Make no mistake about it, once we get on the cold side of the upper air low Saturday we are in for a solid week of well below normal temperatures. These are the 7 day average daily temperature departures on the GFS April 28th-May 5th. That's just disheartening to look at.

Temperature departures of 20 below normal (or greater) are indicated next Monday. Good grief!

The Climate Prediction Center 6-10 day temperature outlook looks on the mark to me.

After all this doom and gloom, I'm hanging my hat on the MJO which is shown heading for significantly warmer phases after May 5th. If it get's into phase 6, which its aimed directly at, summery readings will be back with us after May 10th. Mote on that in tomorrows post. Unfortunately, we'll need some patience as that's a long way down the road. Light at the end of the tunnel! More on the potential moderation tomorrow. Roll weather...TS


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