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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. Steve's "wild" world of weather can be found regularly right

here on Take it away Steve!


On October 25, 1898 a major winter storm affected a good portion of the state, especially the eastern sections with freezing rain and heavy snow.

At Clinton the rain changed to snow during the afternoon hours with a severe northeast wind. The snow fell in "bucketfuls" but melted as the surface temperatures were above freezing. As the evening approached the temperature fell below 32 degrees and the trees became coated with ice and heavy snow which brought down hundreds of branches.

The wires were coated with ice which severely disrupted the telegraph, telephone and electrical service in the city and surrounding areas. With the telegraph service knocked out there were many train delays and in some areas the poles were laying on the tracks. The Iowa Telephone Company suffered a considerable loss with many poles down. The unharvested corn was heavily damaged.

There were very low visibility and blizzard conditions in some areas. Some of the higher snowfalls totals were:

Olin- 6.0"

Amana - 4.0"

Clinton and Wapello - 3.0"

The amounts would have been much higher except for all of the melting in the earlier stages of the storm. It was just 18 years earlier, on October 19th that a major blizzard hit the northwest part of the state


The snowbirds or slate colored juncos showed up here on October 6th and we saw our first snowflakes on the 16th. Last year they came on the 15th of October and we had our first snow on the 28th. I have been keeping track of them since the 1990's and have found that we see out first snowflakes within 2 weeks of their arrival 70% of the time.


We will have 2 full moons this month. The last time this happened was in 1974. I went through my records going back to 1868 and found 7 years with 2 full moons. Of those 7 years, 5 of them saw a snowier winter. We will see how it does this time around?


The term "Indian Summer" first originated in New England. It first came into print in 1794 and referred to an American season.

England has a similar season. If it came early in September it is St. Austin's or St. Augustine's summer. If it came in October it was St. Luke's summer but if it came in November it was St. Martin's summer.

Some critics say it comes no earlier than late October and it can't recur. It is marked by clear, calm and mild days with a hazy horizon and clear, chilly nights. It must be accompanied by a high barometer.


My area received 3.5" of snow in a 3.5 hour period of time on the 19th with 1.75" of that falling in just one hours time. It's the first time that we had back to back October snows since 1929 and 1930 and only the second time this has happened since 1891. With the first "tracking snow" now we can use the snowfall formulas to see how many more we will see this season.

Date of the first snow - 19 times

Date of the first snow plus the number of days since the new moon - 22 times

Number of days since the new moon - 3 times

Number of days since the full moon - 18 times

Days from the first snow til Christmas - 67 times

Using the formulas I posted in July one has normal snowfall and the other two say below normal snowfall.

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


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