top of page
thumbnail_1 ts baner, future in your hands.png


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's even earned 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!

Some Historical Iowa Weather Events

May 15, 1886 - Light snow mixed in with the rain during the latter part of the day in Clayton and Scott counties.

May16th - widespread frost covered nearly the entire state. An observer at Iowa City noted white frost on the fields. The Sycamore maples in the Iowa River Valley just north of town were frosted, some leaves turned brown.

May 17, 1996 - severe thunderstorms produced 4.5" diameter hail at Charles City. A woman was injured by flying glass in her home.

May 18, 1997 - severe thunderstorms produced large hail in and around Iowa City. The hailstones were larger than baseballs and caused $40 million in damage in 15 minutes. Hail up to 4.5" in diameter fell around Hopkinton later on.

May 19, 1911 - severe thunderstorms produced straight line winds in western portions of Cedar Rapids, destroying several buildings and significantly damaging many others. Observers reported "the gale swept with resistless force", trees were snapped and twisted off as easily as they were made of glass. Wires were tangled and broken putting telephone and light service completely out of commission. Barns were unroofed, doors and trees were scattered all along the boulevard. Several people were injured in Cedar Rapids, one seriously.

May 23, 1989 - severe thunderstorms produced 95 mph wind gusts at Dunkerton.

Talk About A Change In The Weather

On May 16, 1997 - Sioux City set a record low of 33 in the morning and then rose to a record high of 91 in the afternoon.

June Bugs And Their Weather Lore

The May beetle or June Bug first showed up around here on May 13th. Here are a couple of weather sayings about the June bug....

"If you hear June bugs in the morning, it's going to be a hot day."

"The person who kills a June bug causes a rain."

The Weather Lore About Slugs And Snails

"If snails and slugs come out abundantly, it is a sign of rain."

"Snails and slugs moving on bushes and grass are a sign of rain."

"When snails and slugs crawl up on evergreens and remain there all day, expect rain."

Weather Lore And The East Wind

I did some research on the east wind and rainfall for the month of May. I have found that you will receive rainfall within 24 hours when the wind goes to the east, 76% of the time. Here are some of the more popular weather sayings about the east wind.

"The east wind has a bad reputation."

"An east wind is an ill wind"

"An easterly wind is like a boring guest that hasn't sense enough to leave."

" Fish bit least with the wind in the east."

"The chill of the east wind is conducive to aches and pains."

"When the wind is from the east, it is four and twenty hours at least."

"Wind from the east is good for neither man nor beast."

Gnats And Their Weather Lore

The Buffalo Gnats showed up around here on the 12th. Here are a few sayings about them and the weather.

"If gnats bite sharper than usual, expect rain."

"If gnats sting much, it is held to be an unfailing indication of rain."

"The gnats bite and I scratch in vain, because they know it is going to rain."

"When gnats bite keenly look for rain and wind."

"When gnats bite keenly, rain is near."

The May 22, 1873 Tornado

At 2:00 p.m. an F4 tornado 800 yards traveled for 45 miles through Keokuk, Washington and Louisa counties. The violent tornado moved ENE from S of Haysville cutting a path of destruction across 30 farms and several schools. The funnel passed through Lancaster, along the edge of West Chester and 6 miles N of Washington then turned E lifting in the NW corner of Louisa county. At several points along the path, people reported the roar could be heard from 10 miles away. Entire farms were leveled. In Keokuk county the first deaths were NE of Lancaster. In Clear Creek township 4 farms were leveled with 2 persons dying in the Engledinger home where a 400 lb. hog was carried a measured distance of 1.25 miles.

The funnel may have lifted near Keota as no damage occurred until 6 miles NW of Washington. Here the funnel tuned E and was very destructive. A woman was killed at the Water's home where the house sills were driven 4 feet or more into the ground. A student was killed and the teacher along with 8 other students were seriously injured in a school 6 miles N of Washington. At Sigourney the hail was apple shaped and 4.5" in diameter. In Jackson township the tornado had multiple vortexes and in some rural areas the fences were blown down in a mile wide path. The storm killed a total of 8 people with another 30 injured.

The U.S. Signal Corps did a detailed farm to farm survey of the damage, a first in history.

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


bottom of page