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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. He's a knowledgeable and interesting man. His name is Steve Gottschalk by way of Lowden, Iowa. I'm grateful to him for lending his unique perspective to the site. After a long COVID break, Steve's "wild" world of weather can be found regularly right here on Take it away Steve!

Is Our Weather Changing?

Using my weather records that go back to January of 1960, I decided to see how much the weather has changed since 2000. I have a pretty good data base of temperatures, rainfall and snowfall.

The annual temperature since 2000 has warmed by 0.6 degrees with the greatest warming coming during the winter months. The winters are 1.6 degrees warmer than the previous period of 1960 to 1999. We have 4 less days with 0 degree readings. Since 2000, 596 temperature records were either tied or broken. The records for heat (374) surpassed the records for cold (222).

Our first day with a 70 degree reading is coming 4 days earlier than previously, the first 80 degree day is coming 12 days earlier and our first 90 degree day is 2 days earlier.

Our springs are 1.0 degree warmer than the previous period. This is what has led to the earlier blooming of plants. I kept track of the blooming dates of my mother's plants from 1983 - 2012 until the home place was sold and this is what I come up with. Since 2000:

Daffodils were blooming 6 days earlier

Grape Hyacinths were blooming 4 days earlier

Tulips were blooming 7 days earlier

Common Violets were blooming 5 days earlier

Old Style Lilac Bush was blooming 9 days earlier

Peonies were blooming 8 days earlier

The birds are returning earlier by several days, too, especially the 4 migrants - robins, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles and the killdeer. Years ago they arrived several days apart, but now they all show up within 2 days of each other. Sometimes, 3 of the species will arrive on the same day.

A few of the more common butterflies like the White (Cabbage) butterfly, the Red Admiral and the Monarchs are showing up several days earlier than they used to.

Our summers are 0.3 degrees cooler and we have 4 less days with 90 degree readings. The dew points are much higher though with values reaching 70 to 75 degrees or higher on more afternoons than they use to. We now average 18 days with heat indexes of 100 degrees or higher compared to 9 days in the 1990's. The highest dew point I have recorded was 85 degrees on July 11, 2011 and the highest heat index was 130 degrees on July 13, 1995.

Our autumns are 0.8 degrees warmer.

A Rule Of Thumb?

A friend of mine at the N.W.S. passed this bit of information on to me last week. Apparently it has been around for decades. You take the temperature reading at 10 0'clock in the morning and add 10 degrees to it and that will be your maximum temperature for the day. I am told this works best when there are no fronts in the area, not much wind and the skies are clear to partly cloudy. I am still testing this.

I have used something similar to this for many years but you take the temperature at noon instead and add 4 or 5 degrees to it and that will give you the maximum for the day. It works best with clear to partly cloudy skies.

From My Old Weather Journal

I found this in my old weather journal, dated May 5, 1843 - after a cold and snowy winter, the ground is still mostly frozen so that one could hardly plow. Hundreds of cattle died of cold and starvation this past winter.

Mother's Day Tornado Outbreak

On May 8, 1988 at least 22 tornadoes touched down across the state on Mother's Day. Severe thunderstorms with widespread reports of large hail and damaging winds occurred mostly over eastern portions of the state.

Two of the larger tornadoes were an F2 that tracked for 71 miles from Davis County to Louisa County. This storm had a "twin structure" to it as it passed through Washington County and there may have been as many as 5 separate tornadoes in this system. The other F2 tornado tracked for 36 miles from Keokuk County to Johnson County.

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


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