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STEVE'S "WILD" WORLD OF WEATHER...


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. He even has a lifetime achievement award from the National Weather Service for his devotion to data and science. 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 TSwails.com. Take it away Steve!


October Of 1997 Was A Month Of Extremes

The average temperature for the state was 52.1 degrees which was 1.1 degrees above normal. The highest temperature for the month was 96 at Muscatine on the 3rd and the coldest reading was 9 at Guthrie Center and Atlantic on the 27th.


The total precipitation for the month was 3.37" which was 0.68" above normal. The greatest total was 7.64" at Newton and the least was 0.93" at LeMars. The greatest 24 hour total was 3.25" at Grinnell on the 13th.


The monthly snowfall totals ranged from 0 at several stations to 13.0" at Mineola.

A Remarkable Daily Range In Temperatures

The first 10 days of the month saw an amazing range in the high and low temperatures. The average daily range from the 1st-10th was 36.4 degrees here at my station. The greatest range was 44 degrees on the 10th and the least was 26 degrees on the 7th. This is what can happen when you are having a dry spell with extremely low humidity.

Dry September's And October's and Winter Snowfall

After having a dry September I was wondering if it could have any effect on the upcoming winter's snowfall? I found 18 Septembers with monthly rainfalls of 2" or less, then factored in having a La Nina event going on. There tended to be normal to slightly above normal snowfall when this happened.

I then looked at having a dry September-October, (back to back), and the effect it has on the upcoming winter's snowfall. The results were the same with the snowfall tending to be normal to slightly above normal. This is assuming that the prediction for a dry October is correct.

My Old Weather Journal

Here is what my old weather journal had to say about the month of October of 1887.

Oct. 10th - it has rained considerably these past 2 weeks and the farmers will have plenty of water for the stock this winter.

Oct. 17th - the farmers are cribbing the corn now.

Oct. 22-23rd - snow fell here on both days.

Oct. 24-25th - colder weather - the temperatures are some 20 degrees below normal. We had our first freeze of the ground.

Oct, 31st - the weather is cold with frosty mornings and the farmers are finishing up the corn as fast as they can. The temperature this month averaged 3.5 degrees below normal and the rainfall was near normal. There were 16 clear days and 5 cloudy days.

An Old Country Almanac For The Week Of October 20-26th

The week of the 20th-26th usually sees 2 days with measurable rainfall but it can vary from 0 days to 6 days. The probability of seeing 1" or more of rainfall on any one of these days is 25%. The day with the greatest probability is the 23rd with a 50% chance and the least is the 21st with a 25% chance. There is usually 2 clear days, 1 partly cloudy day, 4 cloudy days and 4 windy days during the week.

Oct. 20th - " A hard shelled acorn is a sign of a hard winter." It is usually windy, 64% of the time on this day.

Oct, 21st - On this day in 1890, my weather journal said the potatoes are scarce and hard to get at any price.

Oct. 22nd - "When apples have thick skins, the winter will be severe."

Oct. 23rd - On this day in 1929, 2" of snow fell. Look for cooler temperatures, windy conditions and a chance of rain.

Oct. 24th - " A star dogging the moon foretells bad weather." On this morning in 1981, Elkader got down to 13 degrees and Lowden had 16.

Oct. 25th - It's the New Moon. " If the new moon is far north, it will be cold for 2 weeks, but if far south, it will be warm." On this day in 1898 a snowstorm was raging with strong N.W. winds and Olin had 6" of wet snow. Look for variable temperatures and windy conditions.

Oct. 26th - Look for cooler temperatures, windy conditions and a chance of rain. On this day in 1997, a blizzard was raging across most of the state. See the storm of the week.

Storm Of The Week


October 26. 1997 - a major winter storm moved into western Iowa just before midnight on the 25th and swept across the southeastern two thirds of the state on the 26th. Two bands of heavy snow developed, one extending from Council Bluffs, northeast to Boone and another band from northern Ringgold County northeast to near Cedar Rapids.


The heaviest snowfall totals were 13.0" at Mineola and 11.0" at Knoxville and Oakland. Some other local amounts were:

Brooklyn - 10.5"

Belle Plaine - 7.7"

Cedar Rapids and Vinton - 7.0"

Waterloo and Independence - 5.5"

Iowa City - 4.0"

Clinton - 2.5"

Thunder and 40 mph winds accompanied the heavy snow. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost power in central and southern Iowa as snow laden trees fell on power lines. The following morning saw temperatures plummet across the state with the fresh snow cover. The coldest reading was 9 degrees at Atlantic and Guthrie Center. Around the local area Belle Plaine had 11, Vinton - 15 and Cedar Rapids had 17.

The Snowbirds And First Snow Flurries

I heard, then saw my first snowbirds (Slate-colored Juncos) on the 13th. There is a bit of folklore that states you will see your first snowflakes within 2 weeks of this. This has come true 80% of the time. I saw my first snowflakes on the evening of the 16th here in Lowden, 3 day after my sighting.


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