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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!

August weather 100 Years Ago

August of 1922 turned out to be Iowa's warmest month of the summer with the temperature averaging 2 degrees above normal. The warmest reading of the month was 102 at Belmond on the 17th and the same for Clarinda on the 24th. The coolest reading was 42 at Mason City on the 8th.

The state's greatest rainfall total for the month was 9.80" at Atlantic and the least total was 0.33" at LeClaire and that took 9 days to get that amount. The greatest 24 hour total was 5.83" at Atlantic on the 30th which caused washed out roads and interrupted road traffic for several days.

Dubuque had one of it's most severe hailstorms ever on the 1st. The worst of the hail damage that day, however occurred in a swath from 1.5 to 4 miles wide and 40 miles long extending from the N.W. corner of Delaware County to the southeast. The hail drifted 6" deep and caused $500,000 in damage.

The most severe hailstorm of the month occurred on the 9th in Crawford, Shelby, Audubon and Guthrie counties. There was serious damage to the corn crop where whole sections were hailed out with "not a single stalk left standing". Thousands of acres were damaged or destroyed . In Guthrie County the fields were white and the ditches, 2 feet deep, were completely filled. Four days later there was enough hail in the ditches to make ice cream. Chickens and young pigs were killed by the score along with 2 cows. The total damage was over $500,000. On the 16th another hailstorm swept over the same counties causing more damage.

On the 24th, a severe windstorm struck the Cedar Rapids area doing considerable damage to small buildings, broke telephone and telegraph wires, leveled corn fields and knocked apples off the trees.

Some Changes In August Weather

My weather station has always been located over an open, grassy area, not anywhere near pavement or trees as to get the most accurate readings. Going over my 62 years of records I have found that since 2000

the average monthly temperature is 0.4 degree cooler than normal.

the monthly rainfall is averaging 0.50" less.

there are 2 days less with thunder during the month.

there are 3 more clear days during the month.

there are 3 more cloudy days during the month.

there is 1 less day with 90 degree readings.

Moon Weather Folklore

I counted 188 sayings about the moon and weather. Here are several you may want to test for yourself.

A dry moon is far north and soon seen.

A south moon indicates bad weather.

If the first moon of August is hanging on the point, it is a forecaster of a wet August.

If the moon is in the south sky, it is a sign of warm weather.

When the moon runs high, expect cool or cold weather.

Climate Change And The Insects

Since 1990 I have seen a 60% drop in the number of butterflies, some species more than others. It used to be that the first butterfly you saw in the spring was the European white or cabbage butterfly. Since the early 2000's it was the Red Admiral. During the past 5 years it has been the Silver Spotted Skipper. The number of Monarchs over the past 10 years has dropped by 70% around here.

For the moths I have seen a 75% drop since 1990. Years ago, in the evening it looked like it was snowing in the streetlights, now you see just a few. I haven't seen any of the larger moths like the Cecropia, Polyphemus, Luna or Imperial moths for quite a few years.

Years ago you had to clean your car windshield off every couple of days for all of the insects that you hit while driving. Now it's weeks. Some friends of mine drove out to Des Moines and back over the weekend. In that trip they only had 2 small spots on their windshield. That's impressive!

The Weather On The Sun

I have been observing the sun off and on since the early 1990's with my solar telescope. I note the sunspots and filaments along with the solar flares. Some of the sunspots can grow larger than the Earth. Some of the black lines or filaments on the sun's surface are as long as the distance from the Earth to the moon. I recently observed a solar prominence that was shaped like a huge arch coming off the sun's surface that was reported to be 195,000 miles long. A couple of days later it was pointed at the top like the bottom half of the Eiffel Tower. It was fascinating. I am currently checking to see if the larger solar flares has any effect on our weather a few days later.

That's all for this addition. On the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk...roll folklore!


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