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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!

October of 1963 Was Warm and Dry

Up to this point in the month, October of 1963 was the warmest on record surpassing both 1938 and 1947 for the honors. The statewide average temperature was 61.5 degrees or 10.5 degrees above normal. The warmest reading was 97 at Forest city and Shenandoah on the 5th and the coldest was 17 at LeMars on the 29th. Shenandoah had 5 days with readings in the 90's. Some of the maximum temperatures for our area were:

Belle Plaine - 93

Cedar Rapids - 92

Davenport - 92

Iowa City - 93

Muscatine - 92

Waterloo - 95

The average precipitation across the state was 1.08" which was 1.61" below normal. The greatest monthly total was 2.84" at Bedford and the least was 0.09" at Dubuque Lock and Dam No. 11. The greatest 1 day total was 2.10" at Clarion on the 18th.

Some Thoughts On Winter

According to the almanacs one should start looking for the woolly bear caterpillars on October 3rd. I have received reports on the woolly bears from 3 individuals for a total of 16 of the fuzzy little critters so far and they are showing a normal to colder than normal winter. I haven't seen any myself, yet, but will keep looking. I will have updates as the season progresses.

Another thing that I have found is that when you have your first 32 degree temperature in September, and I have found 26 instances during the past 63 years, is that there is a 65% chance of seeing a normal to colder than normal winter. This still holds true even when you are having either an El Nino or a La Nina.

One more potential indicator is when you have 3 consecutive mornings with temperatures in September like I recently had at my location from the 28th-30th. This is only the 5th time this has happened over the last 63 years. The other times were:

1974 - (21st-23rd)

1984 - (28th -30th)

1991 - (19th-21st)

1995 - (22nd-24th)

Three of these four years saw a normal to colder than normal winter.

An Old Country Almanac for the Week of October 6th-12th

This week in October usually sees 2 days with measurable rainfall but can range from 0 days to 6 days. The chance of seeing 1" or more of rain on anyone of these days is 15%. The highest probability of having rain this week is on the 8th or 9th, the least is is on the 10th. There are usually 3 clear days, 1 partly cloudy day, 3 cloudy days and 3 to 4 windy days during the week.

Oct. 6th - "When it's hard to scare crows out of a cornfield it will be a hard winter."

Oct. 7th - "Twinkling stars, a sprinkling of frost".

Oct. 8th - The moon is below Jupiter this evening. "Crickets are the housewife's barometer foretelling her when it will rain."

Oct, 9th - Full Hunter's Moon. Look for variable temperatures and breezy conditions.

Oct. 10th - "Chattering squirrels tell of a mild winter."

Oct. 11th - "Heavy frost and winds in October mean that January and February will be mild." Look for warmer temperatures, wind and a chance of rain.

Oct. 12th - "The east wind's chill leads to aches and pains". Hot weather on this day in 1899 across south and southwest Iowa with highs of 93 at Council Bluffs and Red Oak.

Storm of The Week

On October 10, 1949, one of the most devastating windstorms in history swept across the state. The culprit was a rapidly developing low pressure system over N.E. New Mexico that moved northeasterly into Nebraska then northerly into N.E. North Dakota. The pressure fell from 1002 millibars to 968 millibars in 36 hours. Huron, South Dakota set a barometric pressure record of 972 millibars (28.70"). The pressure fell another 6 millibars by the time the low moved into southern Canada.

The result was hurricane force winds, especially across northern Iowa. At Mason City, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., strong south to southwesterly winds were averaging above 60 mph. The peak gust was 90 mph at 12:13 p.m. The winds flattened much of the corn crop, blew down trees, disrupted telephone and power service, ripped off roofs of buildings and exploded plate glass windows. Some of the other damage around the state was:

Decorah - a television tower collapsed.

Mason City - 2 radio stations were knocked off the air and many phone lines were down.

Des Moines - 62 mph wind gusts and 400 wire breaks.

Fort Dodge - a plane was damaged, $5,000 damage to a drive-in movie theater and 15 grain bins were damaged or destroyed.

Waterloo - 9 men were injured when a big display sign at the Dairy Cattle Congress was blown down. There was a $100,000 in damages.

Over 10% of the farms in the state received significant damage. Total damages in the state were in the many millions of dollars.

At Rochester, Minnesota the winds averaged 65 mph for a time with a peak gust of 100 mph

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


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