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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!

April Warm Spells And The Following Spring And Summer

We had a nice stretch of summer-like temperatures last week with readings in the 80's from the 11th-14th. My station had highs ranging from 80 on the 11th to 85 on the 14th. Going through my personal records which date back to 1960, I found 11 other years with 3 or more 80 degree days with 5 years having 4 or more days. Here are those other 5 years.

1962 - 4 days (24-27).

1971 - 5 days (25-29).

1985 - 6 days (17-22).

1990 - 4 days (23-26).

2002 - 5 days (14-18).

All of those years the dates occurred later than this year. If you look at all of the 11 years that had a mild winter, the following spring tend to be normal to warmer than normal with the summer being normal to warmer than normal.

The First 70, 80 and 90 Degree Days Of The Season

This year I recorded my first 70 degree day on March 31st, last year it was on the 16th (15 days earlier). The average date is March 28th. My first 80 degree day this year occurred on April 11th, last year it was on the 23rd (12 days later). The average date is April 19th. The average date for the first 90 degree day is June 5th. Last year it was on May 10th.

Ants, Anthills And Their Weather Lore

With the recent warm weather the ants are out and about. They have started building their hills in the sidewalk cracks. I have found that when their anthills are 0.5" or taller there will be a significant rain (0.5" or more) in 1 to 2 days. This happened during the last event when I recorded 0.83".

Here is some weather folklore about ants that you may want to check out?

"Ants building cones around holes, expect rain."

"If ants carry their eggs to higher ground, expect heavy rain."

Wood Sorrel Weather Lore

The Yellow Wood Sorrel was first seen blooming on April 15th. It is a small yellow flower with leaves like the white clover. The weather saying states: "Wood sorrel contracts it's leaves at the approach of rain."

Chickweed And Weather

The mouse-eared chickweed was seen blooming on April 14th. It's tiny white flowers attracts the honeybees and bumblebees. A few weather sayings for the chickweed are:

"Chickweed closes their leaves before a rain."

"The flowers of the chickweed contract before a rain."

"The chickweed expands it's leaves boldly when fine weather is nigh."

Snowbirds Are Still Around

I heard the snowbirds (slate colored juncos) on Saturday, the 15th. I thought that they had left during the warm spell. Folklore states that the snow isn't over with until the snowbirds are gone. They were right as we had 1.5" of snow from Sunday night until early Monday morning. What a change in the weather from 85 degrees on Friday to 31 degrees by Sunday evening with snow and wind chills of 20.

A Major April Snowstorm

A major spring storm brought measurable snowfall to all of the state from April 9-12, 1997. The heaviest snowfall was across far southern Iowa on the 10th. The heavier totals were:

Lamoni - 18.8"

Centerville - 21.0"

Bloomfield - 22.0"

Some of the heavier area totals were:

Cedar Rapids - 8.5"

Muscatine - 10.2"

Lowden - 10.8"

The heavy wet snow coated trees and power lines causing widespread damage and utility outages across southern Iowa. Numerous buildings suffered roof collapses from the weight of the snow in s.e. Appanoose and s.w. Davis counties, including a fire station and factory in Centerville. Structural engineers estimated the weight of the snow on the factory roof was more than 30 lbs. per square foot. The greatest snow depth was 22" at Bloomfied on the 12th. The temperatures fell to 17 degrees at Maquoketa and 18 degrees at Tipton on the 13th.

Weather Odds And Ends

It has been a windy month! I have recorded 15 of the first 17 days as having wind gusts of 25 mph or higher. On 8 of those 15 days the winds gusted to 40 mph or higher.

Up til the current time, the 6th and 7th of all 4 months has not seen any precipitation. The 16th of all 4 months has seen measurable precipitation. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the upcoming months.

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


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