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The Iowa Derecho of last August was one of the most powerful thunderstorms ever experienced in United States History. Derechos are notoriously hard to foresee and therefore difficult to give advance warning to. At daybreak the day of the storm, only a marginal risk of severe weather (1 on a scale of 5) was indicated by the Storm Prediction Center...basically garden variety boomers.

By mid-morning, forecasters at SPC could see radical changes and an explosive set-up in place and upped the outlook to moderate (level 4).

Around that time, a "Particularly Dangerous Situation" Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued at 11:25 am. Soon after, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning indicating winds of 80-90 mph was issued for southeastern Iowa - including Cedar Rapids and several surrounding counties. Below you can see the PDS watch indicating a high probability of 10 or more severe wind events.

Even with these adjustments a couple hours before the derecho, many people in the aftermath of the storm, say they felt they didn't get advance notice of the dangerous thunderstorm and its winds of 100 to 140 mph.

That severe thunderstorm warning was not going to show up on your cell phone automatically unless you had some type of app set up or text alert," Rich Kinney, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities

Ironically... to address unusual circumstances such as this, the National Weather Service was finalizing a project that would give that heightened awareness based on a system already used for tornadoes and flash floods.

If you're in that warning from now on you'll get that notice even if you're 45 minutes ahead of the storm, Greg Schoor, National Weather Service Severe Weather Manager

The Wireless Emergency Alert system sends alerts automatically to anyone with a smart device. You've gotten these texts before when there's a tornado, flash flood, or another type of emergency such as an AMBER alert.

Now high-end severe thunderstorms (about 1 percent of all thunderstorm warnings) will be pushed out via text message. These alerts will come with the descriptive label of "destructive" when warnings are issued for storms capable of 80 mph winds (or greater) or baseball size hail (or greater).

Hopefully your folks understand we're really trying to do a service to them, and the timing was unfortunate but we'll be ready for the next one, said Schoor.

The new warnings wouldn't have changed the outcome of August 10th, 2020. It wouldn't take back the destruction. But in all likelihood it would have increased the understanding that something destructive, something very out of the ordinary was on the way. The new alerts will begin around April 28th if this year.

This is one of the many topics I devote attention to in the 12 chapters of my new book Derecho 911, Iowa's Inland Hurricane. It's a very comprehensive and historical account loaded with pictures and graphics that has garnered excellent reviews


I will take this opportunity to mention that I only have 47 copies left of the book on the most expensive thunderstorm in United States history (13 billion dollars in estimated damage). This will be the final printing. If you are interested in having the most authoritative account of this extreme event I would suggest you act now. Don't miss this opportunity to own the weather story of a generation. You can order yours at



*This book has been quite the talk with the Iowa State Library promoting it. I have never seen the State Library promote any books like this unless it was an award winner of particular interest to libraries. Hopefully your sales are through the roof!

Jolene Kronschnabel-Director of Hawkins Memorial Library, La Porte City, Iowa


As far as weather goes the next week appears to be uneventful and one that allows March to come in like a lamb on Monday. Here's the total precipitation on the EURO through next Thursday. High and dry sailors.

Temperatures will bounce around a bit the next few days as a front brings some cool air in for a a short stay Monday March 1st. However, this weekend still shows highs above normal in the upper 30s to low 40s. The exception to that will be in the far south, especially south of HWY 34 where snow cover has dwindled to 2" or less. Here, highs could approach 50, especially Saturday. After the cool-down Monday readings are quickly on the way back up the rest of the coming week. This is the NDFD model blend of temperatures for Cedar Rapids the next week.

If you average readings over that period the 7 day departure looks like this. Most places are 4-6 degrees above normal per day.

Now, I leave you with even better news. Several days ago I mentioned I thought we had a good shot at highs in the 60s around March 8-9th. The EURO still shows that trend although its a bit faster cranking out a 64 in Cedar Rapids March 7th. The sooner the better!

That brings me to the end of this post. Here's hoping you have a fantastic weekend as we get set to say goodbye to which I say, don't let the door hit you in the booty! Roll weather...TS


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