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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. After a long COVID break, Steve's "wild" world of weather can be found regularly right here on Take it away Steve!

Iowa's First Documented Tornado

It was back on July 29, 1804 when Captain Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition recorded the following in his journal: - On the S.S. passed much falling timber apparently the ravages of a Dreddful harican which passed oblequely across the river from N.W. to S.E. about twelve months Sinc, many trees were broken off near the ground the trunks of which were sound and four feet in Diameter. Due to this early account it's believed this was Iowa's first documented tornado.

A Late 1800's July Tornado

On July 26, 1895, around 6:00 p.m. an F3 tornado up to 150 yards wide swept a path 7 miles long from 2 miles S.E. of Readlyn to just N.E. of Dunkerton. At first it moved slowly in an easterly direction then turned more southeasterly then south - southeasterly. The tornado was on the ground for nearly an hour. Along it's path, one house disappeared "as if by magic" and a tree was thrown into the cellar injuring a child. A 150 lb. hog from "an unknown farm" was dropped into another cellar. Two colts were reportedly carried to a height of 1,000 feet, appearing as "specks in the sky", then were dropped to their death.

The Fireflies Are Fine Weather Forecasters

This season the fireflies are doing an excellent job at forecasting whether it will rain or not during the overnight hours. If they are seen flying high during the evening hours it will remain dry overnight, if they are flying low, it will rain. I have been keeping track every night since June 17th and they haven't missed yet. Not too shabby for a little insect?

August Weather Trends

Here are some interesting trends that I have discovered after going through my many years of weather records.

Since 2000, August is seeing 3 more cloudy days than it did during the previous period of 1970-1999.

Since 2000, August is seeing 3 more clear days than it did during the previous period of 1970-1999.

There are less partly cloudy days and we are also experiencing 2 less days with thunder since 2000.

August's Wettest And Driest Days

After carefully going through my records for August, I have found that the day you are most likely to see rain during the month is the 18th, followed by the 4th, 10th and the 17th. The most likely day for not seeing rain is the 1st followed by the 15th.

The days having the greatest probability of seeing an inch or more are the 19th and the 28th followed by the 17th and 23rd.

In any given August, there is a 70% probability that you will have at least one day with an inch or more of rain.

August Tornadoes And Lunar Phases

For the period of 1980-2020, Iowa has averaged 4 tornadoes during the month of August. Since 2000 I have found that the majority of August tornadoes tend to occur during the week of the Full Moon followed closely by the New Moon. The majority of the tornadoes seems to have occurred during the period encompassing the 16th-21st.

For the Full Moon its on the same day to 2 days after.

For the New Moon it's 1 to 2 days after.

For the First Quarter it's 2 or 3 days after.

For the Last Quarter it's 4 days after.

Well, that's all for this edition. On the wild side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk.


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