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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 Of 1936...A STORMY MONTH

The monthly average temperature was 3 degrees below normal but saw a wide range in readings from 0 at Sibley on the 3rd to a high of 92 at Corydon on the 20th. After having readings in the 80's and 90's on the 20th, the temperatures were back down in the upper teens to mid 20's on the 22nd.

Most of the snow that fell was during the first week with the greatest monthly totals were at Elkader and Olin with 10.0".

There were many damaging storms during the month.

12th - Black Hawk, Hardin and Marshall counties had $1,000 damage to farms due to high winds.

28th - Severe thunderstorms in N.W. Iowa with intense lightning and hail damage at Riverton. A circus tent blew down at Manson.

30th - Frankville township in Winneshiek County, there were straight line winds and hail damage. Varina in Pocahontas County, lightning struck a grain elevator resulting in $18,000 damage.

30th - At 3 p.m. an F4 tornado, 100 yards wide tracked for 15 miles. It tracked from 7 miles n.W. of Everly to Lake Okoboji completely destroying 20 farms and 21 cottages along the lake. The funnel dissipated as a waterspout at the west end of the lake. A woman was killed when she was thrown from here home into a plow. A hired hand was killed near Terrace Park by flying debris. Two persons were killed and 15 injured in this storm along with $300,000 in damages.

At 4:30 p.m. an F2 tornado, 800 yards wide and 20 miles long. This complex family of tornadoes and a downburst formed over the north part of Estherville damaging or destroying 50 buildings. This storm injured 10 persons.

At 5 p.m. an F4 tornado 800 yards wide tracked for 40 miles moving ENE on the south edge of Estherville into Minnesota. The storm destroyed farm homes SE of Estherville and swept away entire farms W and NW of Dolliver. Many persons were injured and the damage amounted to $100,000.

At 6 p.m. an F2 tornado 1 mile long destroyed a barn and other outbuildings on a farm near Union.

At 8:15 p.m. an F2 tornado 200 yards wide and 10 miles long skipped NE of Perry destroyed 1 barn and damaged buildings at the fairgrounds.

May Lunar Weather Calendar

2nd - variable temps., rain and wind.

4th & 5th - variable temps., rain and wind.

9th - warmer, rain and wind.

11th & 12th - variable temps., rain and wind.

15th - warmer, rain and wind.

17th - warm, rain and wind.

19th - variable temps., rain and wind.

22nd - variable temps., rain and wind.

25th - warmer, rain and wind.

27th - warm, maybe some rain and wind.

29th - warm, rain and wind.

Old Weather Journal

I found this in my old weather journal regarding April of 1843.

April 1st, 1843 - the first Monday of the month, the ice on the river was thick enough for one to cross.

April 16th, there were still snowbanks 3 foot deep in some places. This was one of the longest and coldest winters on record and was known as the "Long Winter". The snow was over 30" deep in the woods and there were 35 days with 0 degree temperatures. The Mississippi River at Muscatine was closed from Nov. 27th to April 8th.

April 12th, 1883 - Spring is a little backward.

April 22nd - a sharp frost this morning and the wind was a regular gale today.

April 23rd - another sharp frost, another windy day.

April 26th - the wind has forgotten how not to blow.

Prairie Fires

Back in the 1800's Iowa was covered by the tall prairie grass and fires were a real danger at times. Nowadays we don't have to worry about that except for a grass fire or two? I found some dates for the month of April from 1872-1889 in the old records that the weather observers kept back then. Here are a few:

April 1876 at Monticello there were fires on the 8th, 24th and 25th.

April 1877 at Monticello there was a fire on the 27th.

April 1883 at Humboldt there were fires on the 3rd and 9th.

April 1884 at Humboldt there was a fire on the 4th.

April 1885 at Burlington there were fires on the 5th and 13th.

Weather Odds And Ends

Out of the first 23 days of this month we have had wind gusts of 25 mph or higher on 20 days.

17 of those 20 days have had wind gusts of 30 mph or higher.

9 of those days had gusts of 40 mph or higher.

In April of 1980 Fort Dodge and Waterloo soared to 100 degrees on the 22nd which was an all-time record for the state. Just 10 days earlier Sanborn and Chariton were down to 16 degrees.

On the 14th of the month Mt. Pleasant saw 7.0" of snow and Iowa City and Burlington saw 6.0".

April Of 1994 Was Wild!

For the month, the warmest reading was 99 at Logan on the 19th and the coldest was 13 on the 8th at 7 different locations in N.W. Iowa. Here is a synopsis of the major weather events of the month.

12th - heavy snow fell across the N.W. corner of the state with 3" to 6" in a 20 mile wide band.

14th - a severe weather outbreak brought high winds, hail and a few tornadoes across the state that caused considerable damage to buildings, trees, etc.

There were 38 reports of hail ranging in size from 0.75" to 3.0" in diameter.

There were 30 reports of damaging winds from 50 mph+ to 85 mph.

There were 2 reports of tornadoes, an F1 and F3 plus a gustnado.

There was a bow echo in central Iowa which moved along at 55 mph.

15th - there were 3 reports of hail from 0.75" to 1.0" in diameter.

There were 3 reports of damaging winds of 50 mph+.

14th-15th - high winds from a deep low pressure system produced winds of 50 to 65 mph causing damage to trees and buildings.

24th - severe thunderstorm from W.C. into N.E. Iowa produced 50 mph+ winds and 1.0" hail that damage buildings.

25th - thunderstorms produced 0.75" to 1.75" diameter hail across N.E. Iowa along with high winds that did considerable damage to buildings, trees and wires.

There were 14 hail reports.

There were 26 reports of damaging winds of 50 mph+ to 78 mph.

26th - thunderstorms produced damaging winds and hail from 0.88" to 1.0" in diameter.

There were 2 hail reports.

There 5 reports of wind damage.

There was 1 tornado reported.

Later on this day high winds from an intense low pressure system swept across the state with gusts from 30 to 82 mph caused quite a bit of damage. Blowing dust reduced visibility down to zero in some places. 3 persons were injured due to the weather.

28th - extreme N.W. Iowa was hit with thunder snow with rates from 1" to 2" per hour. Totals ranged from 5" to 8".

30th - It was eastern Iowa's turn to get some snow. Dubuque received 6.0", Cedar Rapids - 4.0", Columbus Junction - 3.0" and Lowden - 2.5"

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


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