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'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 TSwails.com. Take it away Steve!
BY THE WAY, THIS IS STEVE'S 90th BLOG FOR MY SITE. I ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING FROM INSIGHTS. THANKS YOU STEVE FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK.
SOME EASTERN IOWA HISTORICAL WEATHER EVENTS
May 25, 2008 - several rounds of severe thunderstorms swept across the state, one which produced a large violent EF 5 tornado that tracked from S of Aplington to S of Fairbank. It devastated the southern half of Parkersburg and clipped New Hartford destroying many farmsteads and barely missing Cedar Falls.
The tornado was over 1 mile wide at times. Nine persons were killed and another 75 injured in the storm. Softball size hail fell at Finchford and Boies. The wind gusted to 93 mph at the Waterloo Airport.
May 26, 1965 - Three tornadoes touched down in eastern Iowa during the early morning hours. An F 2 tornado struck Cedar Rapids before 4:00 a.m. unroofing many homes and businesses along with blowing over 1/2 dozen trailers injuring 14 persons.
May 27, 1992 - A late freeze across most of Iowa with scattered frost. Anamosa and Elkader got down to 30 degrees.
May 29, 1965 - Unusually cold weather resulted in freezing temperatures across the northern half of the state. It was 30 degrees in Decorah and Grinnell, 29 at Anamosa, Fayette and Waterloo. Independence had the lowest reading with 23 degrees.
May 30, 1985 - An F 3 tornado grazed Elkader as it moved NE at 45 mph. It struck the County Care Facility located just outside of the city, killing 2 persons and injuring 10 others. The storm then proceeded to devastate dozens of farms injuring another 25 people in Clayton County before crossing the Mississippi River.
May 31, 1958 - During the afternoon hours, Oelwein experienced it's worst hail and wind storm in 60 years. Baseball size fell for nearly 30 minutes smashing nearly every vehicle and building window in the city along with damaging many roofs. A cloudburst of 2.65" of rain caused significant flooding closing nearly all roads and highways to the area.
A SHARP DROP IN THE HUMIDITY AND DEW POINT
Last week I wrote about the huge temperature swing in Sioux City so I thought you may be interested in this little item that I found in my weather records? On May 30, 2003, after a cold front moved through with the wind shifting to the N.W., the dew point went from 62 degrees at 4 p.m. to 36 at 5 p.m. The humidity went from 52% down to 19% during the same period. Now that's a change!!!
ANT HILLS AND THE WEATHER
The ants are building their nests or hills broader and not so tall, lately. This would suggest that warm temperatures and drier conditions are in the offing. They build their nest like this for better ventilation and to keep them cooler.
Here are a couple of weather sayings dealing with this.
" An open anthill indicates clear weather."
"Ants build up their nest when hot weather is coming."
THE WILDFIRE SMOKE
We had smoke from the western Canadian wildfires moved into the area late on the 16th and it lingered on in our skies through the 20th, a stretch of 5 days. After a brief reprieve, it was back on the 22nd.
Going through my records I found only one other May that saw this phenomena and that was back in 1998, 25 years ago and it was around for just one day, the 18th. That smoke was from Mexican wildfires.
The smoke gave us some colorful sunrises and sunsets. One could smell the smoke on the 16th, 19th and the 20th. During the late evening of the 18th and through the early morning of the 19th, you could see the smoke in the streetlights, just like fog. At 1:00 a.m. on the 19th, I observed a fine ash falling in the beam of my flashlight, a first for me.
Last year we had smoke filled skies on 7 days during the month of September.
THE IOWA CITY TORNADO OF MAY 24, 1859
On May 24, 1859 - A large tornado approached Iowa City from the N.W. between 6 and 7 p.m. At first it seemed to heading directly for the city but then it veered off to the south leaving a path of death and destruction, 10 miles long.
One resident of Iowa City reported that as the mass of clouds moved to the SE, the formation enlarged and it's spiral motion became more perceptible like the hands of a watch moving backwards. As the tornado moved along, 2 giant oaks, one at least 3 feet in diameter, standing near together, were uprooted. One was thrown to the west and the other to the east. Another 2 foot thick tree was snapped like a pipe-stem, close to the ground.
Still another tree, larger than any of these and probably 60 feet tall was stripped of it's massive branches, 15 or 20 feet from it's base and was thrown in every direction with little effort, like the twigs of a rose bush.
One person was killed in a barn, 2 people died in one home. A man and his grandson were thrown 200 yards and 500 yards to their deaths at another home. The earth was torn up in places, houses, barns, sheds and fences were scattered as chaff and lie about the fields in will and awful ruins.
There were reports that as the tornado crossed the Iowa River just south of the county fairgrounds - "it scooped out the water til the bed of the stream could be seen entirely across."
he editor of the Iowa City Republican paper wrote that - had the tornado come directly over the city, it would have left a pile of smoldering ruins. Hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been stricken from the tax rolls. Hundreds if not a thousand lives would have been lost. The storm killed 8 persons and injured another 18 ( 6 seriously). The damage was at least $12,000.
National attention was drawn to this tornado by 5 sketches and a graphic account published in widely circulated newspapers, including reports by those citizens who visited the wrecks of the whirlwind.
That's all for the edition. On the "wild" side of weather I'm Steve Gottschalk.