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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. 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 Take it away Steve!

What Will Our Spring Be Like?

After our mild winter I decided to go through my records to see what the upcoming spring may bring? I found 12 winters were the average temperature was 23 degrees or warmer. For those 12 winters, 3 had springs that were colder than normal, 4 had near normal springs and 5 springs were warmer than normal.

As far as the spring precipitation is concerned, I took the 7 wettest winters, this past winter was my 5th wettest with 8.16", I found that 5 of those winters were followed by a wetter spring.

The Spring Birds Have Returned

It will be 40 years ago this month that I started keeping track of Nature around the Lowden area. One of the things that I keep track of is the return of the summer birds. The 4 Key Species that I am most interested are the robins, grackles, killdeer and the red-winged blackbirds. These tend to be the first arrivals.

Robins arrived on March 1st which was 1 day later than last year. The earliest date was Feb. 20th and the latest was Mar. 11th.

Red-Winged Blackbirds arrived on Feb. 27th which was 7 days later than last year. The earliest date was Feb. 20th and the latest was Mar. 12th.

Killdeer arrived on Feb. 27th which was 1 day earlier than last year. The earliest date was Feb. 20th and the latest was Mar. 12th.

Grackles arrived on Mar. 1st which was 1 day earlier than last year. The earliest date was Feb. 21st and the latest was Mar. 14th.

Back in the 1980's and 1990's there was always a gap between the dates that they arrived but since 2000 they started to arrive together on the same day. Some years 3 of the 4 species arrived on the same day. It used to be the robins/red-wings arrived together and the grackles/killdeer together. In 2021 they all arrived on the same day. Our changing climate is affecting their migration.

First Quarter Moons And The Weather

One of the phases of the moon that I watch most closely is the first quarter moon. The weather always changes around this time. Here are samples from the past 14 months.

Jan. 9, 2022 - windy, ice and colder.

Feb. 8, 2022 - windy and warmer temperatures.

Mar. 10, 2022 - snow, windy and colder temperatures.

Apr. 9, 2022 - snow, windy and warmer.

May 8, 2022 - windy and hot.

June 7, 2022 - thstms, windy and cooler.

July 6, 2022 - wind shift and cooler.

Aug. 5, 2022 - wind shift and warmer.

Sept. 3, 2022 - wind shift and cooler.

Oct. 2, 2022 - wind shift and warm spell.

Nov. 2, 2022 - windy and record warmth. Nov. 31st - windy and cooler.

Dec. 29, 2022 - windy and record warmth.

Jan. 28, 2023 - heavy snow, windy and colder.

Feb. 27, 2023 - thstm with heavy rain and windy.

Iowa's Weather 100 Years Ago

March of 1923 was exceptionally stormy with great extremes in temperature and sudden changes.

The state average monthly temperature 29.4 degrees which was 3.9 degrees below normal. The highest temperature reported was 78 degrees at Thurman on the 1st and the lowest was -22 at Boone on the 19th. The month opened on a warm note on the first 2 days with the highest temperatures ever recorded for so early in the season over most of the state. The balance of the month was mostly cold and on the 19th, the coldest weather ever experienced in March occurred over portions of the state. Throughout the state the readings on this date were the lowest ever recorded so late in the season. The month closed on a cold note with a number of stations reporting the lowest temperatures of record for the last week of March.

The month was characterized by abnormally heavy snowfall with a state average of 18.5" which was second only to 1912's 19.1". The greatest monthly total was 41.0" at Olin and the least total was 5.3" at Centerville. Some other area totals were Belle Plaine - 32.8", Cedar Rapids - 28.0", Davenport - 24.8" and Dubuque - 20.8".

The precipitation occurred in 5 general storms beginning on the 3rd and ending on the 22nd. After the 22nd, practically no precipitation occurred. The storm of the 3rd-4th was severe over the N.W. half of the state. Over most of the N.W. and N.C. sections it assumed blizzard characteristics with the snow drifting badly blocking some roads for nearly a week and all forms of transportation were delayed.

The following storm on the 11th-12th was especially severe over the E. portions of the state. A heavy wet snow clung to all objects and played havoc with trees, telephone and telegraph poles and wires and almost caused a suspension of rail traffic. Thousands of poles were snapped off and large limbs were broken from trees. Not a wire in large sections escaped damage.

Dubuque was cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 24 hours with street car service being temporarily suspended on account of the heavy snow and large numbers of poles and tree limbs littering the streets. The damage to telegraph and telephone companies in the area was $100,000.

Snow fell during most of the week from the 12th to the 18th with unprecedented amounts falling in this short period of time. Several stations in the central part of the state reported 25" to 30" within a week.

On the 18th, one of the worst blizzards ever experienced hit most of the state. Over half of the state reported heavy snow accompanied by very strong winds and temperatures near 0. Huge snowdrifts were quite common which delayed all traffic. Most train service was suspended as a large number of trains on the main lines were snowed in. A freight train of 7 boxcars on the Perry interurban road stalled in a cut and before it could be backed out it was nearly covered up and had to be shoveled out. Enormous drifts were common around Des Moines and wagon roads leading into the city were impassable shutting off the milk supply. What milk was on hand had to be rationed to where it was most needed.

The storm was followed by intensely cold weather. The temperatures in the local area ranged from -10 at Cedar Rapids to -20 at Belle Plaine. As a result there was great suffering as the coal supplies of many families had been exhausted and it was impossible to make deliveries. The storm was severe on the livestock taking a heavy toll of lambs and the loss of young pigs was around $1,000,000. Migrating birds, pheasants, quail and even rabbits were frozen to death in large numbers.

Well, that's all I have for you in this edition. Until next time, on the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk.


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