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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. Only one person takes climatology to a level like this. His name is Steve Gottschalk by way of Lowden, Iowa. He's a knowledgeable and interesting man. 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!

Are The Woolly Bears Disappearing?

As part of my ongoing discussion about climate change, today I will talk about the woolly bear caterpillars, one of my favorite insects. I have been keeping track of the woolly bears since the late 1970's and have been using their number of brown bands to predict the temperatures for the upcoming winter. Over the years their accuracy has been around 75%. It was in 1990 that I made an extra effort to find as many as I could and a few years later I started sending my findings to Quad City Times columnist Bill Wundram who would publish them.

Climate change is just one of the factors affecting the insects along with habitat loss and chemicals in the environment. Since 2000 my weather station has seen an annual temperature increase of 0.7 of a degree and since 2010 the increase has been 1.1 degrees. Of the last 7 years, 6 of those years have been above normal.

In the 1990's I found an average of 45 woolly bears a year. Since 2000 that number has fallen to 33 woolly bears and during the last 2 years, the number has fallen to 17. I read an article last fall that someday there may be no woolly bears to count. That would be a big loss! I will have more on how climate change is affecting the insects in my future blogs.

Fireflies And Winter

I have been keeping track of the first date that the fireflies show up since 1996. The average date of the first sighting is June 12th. This year it was the 15th. Looking back through my records when the date was 3 days or later than usual, the winter tends to be colder than normal. The snowfall tends to be greater than normal, too. This is the first time that I used this method for predicting the upcoming winter.

La Nina, Fireflies, Cicadas And August Temperatures

I was wondering if there was a connection between the cicadas singing later, fireflies showing up later, a La Nina and August's temperatures? It turns out that all 3 of them tends to have an August with near normal temperatures.

August Lunar Weather Forecast-What to expect weatherwise...

2nd - warm, rain and wind

5th - warm, rain and wind

15th - warm and wind

18-19th - warm and wind

22nd - warm, maybe rain and wind

27th - warm and wind

Severe Weather Outbreak Of July 27, 1995

On July 27, 1995, severe thunderstorms spawned a dozen tornadoes across the state. Hail the size of baseballs were reported near DeWitt, Calamus and Grand Mound. Wind gusts of 85 mph were reported at Monticello and Lamont.

The most significant tornado was an F3 that cut a path 21 miles long and 150 yards wide across Buchanan and Delaware counties. It traveled from 2 miles west of Lamont to N.W. of Delhi. Nineteen farms were hit along the path along with a mobile home that was destroyed and a grain elevator in Lamont was heavily damaged. An F2 tornado in Cedar county with a path 100 yards wide, tracked for 8 miles from 7 miles N.W. of Atalissa to 4 miles N.E. of that town. Winds of 90 to 95 mph in close proximity to that storm destroyed a home and several buildings north of Atalissa. There were reports of food being sucked out of the refrigerator and boards taken out of a loaded grain wagon. A letter from the house was found 40 miles away in the Quad Cities. Two F1 tornadoes were reported, one in Clinton county and the other in Scott county.

I saw 3 tornadoes that afternoon, the first was a thick, white, rope-like funnel 2 to 3 miles N.W. of town. It soon lifted and moved off to the E.N.E. The other 2 were seen a little later on about 5 miles south of town. They were both on the ground for a few minutes and the lifted. About 10 minutes later the wall cloud that produced them passed directly over the center of town. It was quite a sight to see. There was quite a bit of cloud to ground lightning with the first storm, but little rain, as the storm moved on and intensified.

The Rariton EF4 tornado

Two weeks earlier on May 13th, 1995, a powerful EF4 tornado struck WC Illinois just east of Ft. Madison, Iowa. To this day it ranks as the most violent tornado to impact the National Weather Service Quad Cities service area in the era of the Doppler radar. The Village of Raritan in eastern Henderson County suffered the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury that day, but several other towns also suffered damage from Niota to Dallas City, Lomax, Disco, Terre Haute and Roseville.

July Weather, 150 Years Ago

The old weather journal that I have was a result of 1,000 hours of going through all of Cedar county's old newspapers (Tipton Advertiser)) and jotting down every weather item that i could find. I researched the years from 1853 - 1902. All of the information was entered into 2 spiral bound notebooks. Here is what I have for July of 1872.

4th - the week past was warm and sultry.

13th - very warm weather this past week.

22nd - after 2 weeks of hot weather, the preceding 2 days were quite cool, but today it is hot and the real first rainstorm of the season swept through here.

25th - the rain comes down pretty lively, nowadays.

29th - very hot temperatures, a heavy rainstorm swept through the county along with some wind, the streams are running high.

30th - the hot weather continues.

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


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