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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!

A Exceptional August Hailstorm

On August 6, 1890, a severe hailstorm swept through parts of Adair and Union counties producing incredible amounts of hail. Near the town of Orient the hail destroyed all green vegetation and killed small animals such as rabbits, ground squirrels, etc. along with many birds.

Gorilla hail, October 27th, Libya 2020

It fell to a depth of 4" and ranged in size from quail to hen's eggs. It drifted in many places up to a depth of 6 feet where it remained protected by the underbrush for 25 days after the storm, until September 1st.

At Creston, the hail fell for 40 minutes and in the bottom lands drifted into piles, 6 feet deep. Some of the hail was found in the tall grass 12 days later.

An Early August Freeze In 1863

Going through my old weather journal I found this interesting August some 159 years ago.

4th - a blessed rain fell here this evening, the first worthy of the name since early in May. It helped the corn greatly.

16th - Hot! The temperature this afternoon was 95.

17th - another hot day, the thermometer at 96.

20th - cooler temperatures today.

22nd - a thunderstorm swept over the area with much lightning.

25th - a heavy frost in the area this morning doing considerable damage the corn crop and garden plants.

The Trains Create Their Own Wind

As one who has stood at the railroad crossings many a time waiting for the train to pass, I wondered how strong of a wind the trains created when they flew by. One day I took my hand held anemometer and stood 20 feet away from the track clocking the wind speeds of various types of trains as they went by. The average wind generated by the trains was from 15 to 20 mph. The car carrier trains and the stack trains had the highest speeds. The faster the trains flew by the higher the speeds. Most of the trains traveled at speeds from 60 to 70 mph.

Some August Weather Lore

Here are just a few of the more popular weather folklore for the month of August. You may want to test them?

Cool August nights reveal hot weather for September.

If the first week of August is unusually warm, the winter will be white and long.

When the dew is heavy in August, the weather generally remains fair.

Climate Change and Insects

As you may have read before I have kept track of the cicadas for many years. I estimate that their numbers have dropped over 80% since the 1980's. In one season back in 1990, my daughter and I collected over 500 of the cicada's empty shells with 400 of them coming from my parents property alone. These past 12 years or so a person may find 30 or 40 of them.

Years ago, every street you walked down was filled with their loud buzzing. Now you may hear one or two for every street you walk on. Over the years I have noticed that some of them sing in the morning while others sing during the afternoon or the evening hours.

I have noticed a very large drop in the June bugs as well. In the 1980's and 1990's you would always see them flying around the lights at night. So far this year I have seen one by my porch light. Years ago I would dump them out of my rain gauge almost every day. There was usually 1 or 2 of them in the tube and sometimes 3 or 4. I haven't had any in my rain gauge for over 5 years. I have estimated their numbers have dropped at 90% over the years.

June Bug The Mayflies have seen a dramatic drop as well, at least 80% since 1990 according to my estimates. They used to be on the windows of all the businesses downtown, especially the bank at where I was a janitor for over 25 years. There would be dozens of them on the bank windows out front and I would sweep them off of the walk as there were so many. Over the past 10 years I am lucky if I can find a dozen of them during the season. This season I have found 8 so far.

Mayfly hatch on Doppler radar

Extreme Hatch-Mayflies converge on Burlington, Iowa July 2020

A solitary Mayfly

I will have some information on the butterflies and moths in my next blog

Multiple Journals

Besides a daily weather journal, I keep journals on astronomy, nature, jet contrails, sunsets and the weather they bring along with my insect studies. I count the number of certain butterflies that I see on my walks, the moths that I see at night, the number of fireflies along with the number of cicada's that I hear during the day. I'm busy!

That's all for this edition. On the "Wild Side of Weather" I'm Steve Gottschalk.


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