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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!


Winter Robins?

In some areas, especially to our south, some robins do overwinter, preferably taking shelter in a wooded area or a large windbreak of trees. If it does get cold and food is scarce they will come into town to the bird feeders.


During the past 40 years I have seen winter robins only twice and that was during an exceptionally warm winter with a half dozen or less birds. It has been quite a few years since I have seen any. There was a lone robin around here in December but it disappeared a week before Christmas and wasn't seen again.

Thursday's And Winter Storms

I have, along with others, noticed that most of our storms this winter are centered around Thursdays. Sometimes it's a Wednesday-Thursday time frame and other times it's Thursday-Friday. I went back to November to check this out and this is what I found.


In November it was the 10-11th, a Thursday-Friday with a thunderstorm (0.72") and wind.

In December it was the 9-10th, a Friday-Saturday with 0.67" of rain and wind.

Dec. 15-16th, a Thursday-Friday with 0.8" of snow and wind.

Dec. 21-23rd, a Wednesday-Friday with 6.1" of snow, 51 mph wind gusts, blizzard conditions and 0 degree

temperatures.

In January it was the 5th, a Thursday with 1.3" of snow and wind.

Jan. 18-19th, a Wednesday-Thursday with 1.2" of sleet/snow and wind.

Jan. 25-26th, a Wednesday-Thursday with 3.2" of snow and wind.

In February it was the 9th, a Thursday with 1.25" of precipitation (3.5" snow) and wind.

Feb. 16th, a Thursday with 9.5" of snow and wind.

Feb. 22-23rd, a Wednesday-Thursday with 0.70" precipitation (0.3" ice) and wind.

In March it was the 9th, a Thursday with 6.6" of snow and wind.

I will continue to keep track of this as time goes on.

Is March Seeing Less Snowfall?

I did some research which involved a lot of "number crunching" to see if Iowa's March snowfall is changing. The state's monthly snowfall records starts with 1888. There were some snowy March's in the earlier years dating back to the 1850's such as Clinton's 31.0" in March of 1881. I thought that you may like to see how bad it was back in 1881.


Here are some excerpts from that March...

Clinton - the storms of the 2-3rd and the 19-20th caused the worst interruption to travel ever experienced in this section, no mails or travel from the 2nd to the 6th and again from the 19th-25th. Street cars couldn't run a single day during these periods.

Davenport - 3rd a very heavy storm, all communication cut off: 11th - all roads again blocked; 19th - a more violent storm, business of all kinds nearly suspended.

Dubuque - 2nd heavy snow, trains blockaded; 3rd- snow drifting badly; 4th- heavy snow, all trains delayed: 7th - blockade opened; 11th - heavy snow, trains again blockaded; 19th -a very heavy storm, all communication shut off; 21st - blockade opened.

Sioux City - the 3rd - all roads within 200 miles of this station blockaded, some of them since New Years.

Here is what I found in my research on Iowa's March snowfall trends.

1890's - snowfall average 6.3"

From 1900 to 1939 - the average snowfall was from 5.4" to 5.8".

From the 1940's to the 1970's the snowfall increased.

From the 1950's to the 1970's the average was 7.6".

From 1950 to 1969 the average was 8.8".

The 1980's saw the snowfall starting to decrease with 6.3".

From 1990 to 2022 the average was 4.2".


As you can see March's snowfall has been gradually decreasing down to it's lowest average since reliable records have been kept. Here are the top ten snowiest Marches along with the highest snowfall totals for each month.

1951 - 21.0" Northwood and Osage - 42.0"

Elkader - 40.6"

Pocahontas - 38.6"

Sibley -37.5"


1912 - 19.1" Earlham - 52.5"

Stockport - 37.0"

Burlington - 28.2"

Des Moines - 28.0"

1923 - 18.5" Olin - 41.0"

Belle Plaine - 32.8"

Lacona - 32.0"

Oskaloosa - 31.6"

1965 - 17.5" Algona - 34.6"

Emmetsburg - 33.5"

Britt - 31.5"

Sioux Rapids - 30.3"

1891 - 16.9" Fairfield - 32.5"

Carroll & Hampton - 29.0"

Muscatine - 28.0"

Belle Plaine - 25.0"

1959 - 16.3" Fayette - 35.0"

Cresco - 34.0"

Dubuque - 30.7"

Marshalltown - 30.3"

1960 - 15.9" Albia - 25.8"

Bloomfield - 25.7"

Lamoni - 24.2"

Belle Plaine - 23.0"

1952 - 15.2" Forest City - 27.0"

Lamoni - 25.8"

Ottumwa - 23.5"

Maquoketa - 22.5"

1948 - 14.6" Atlantic - 30.4"

Carroll - 29.0"

Audubon - 28.7"

Grinnell - 21.7"

1984 - 14.2" Newton - 24.1'

Columbus Jct. - 24.0"

Grinnell - 22.1"

Iowa Falls - 21.9"


These would be incredible totals for any winter month, let alone March. Next week I will show the changes in Iowa's temperatures and precipitation over the years.


That's all for this edition, on the "wild" side of weather, I'm Steve Gottschalk.

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