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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'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!


Since we are in the early stages of a developing El Nino, I thought I would do some research to see if it has any bearing on our first frost. I found 8 years that were similar and found that the first frost was earlier than usual on 4 years, later than usual on 3 years and around the same time for 1 year.


I checked out the early snowfalls and found 6 years when snow fell in October. Only 2 of them occurred during El Ninos. The other 4 times were split evenly between La Ninas and neutral phases.


I heard my first cicada on July 6th, this was 3 days earlier than last year. There are 3 different formulas for calculating the date when you will have your first frost after hearing the cicada singing for the first time.

12 weeks which would make it September 28th.

90 days which would make it October 4th.

3 months which would make it October 6th.

Last year we had out first frost 80 days after the first cicada sang. My 43 year average is 90 days. The least number of days was 56 in 2011 and the greatest number was 118 days in 1998.


"Puffy white clouds on July 25th foretells much snow in the winter."

"If it rains on July 26th, it will rain for the following two weeks. If it is dry, expect two weeks of dryness."


"When moles throw up more earth than usual, expect rain."

"Mushrooms and toadstools are numerous before rain."

"When mushrooms spring up during the night, expect rain."

"Just before rain, flowers smell stronger and sweeter."


July 16, 2007 - Severe thunderstorms pounded northern Iowa. In areas around Cedar Falls, baseball to softball size hail fell.

July 19, 1994 - Severe thunderstorms struck NE Iowa with multiples tornadoes and straight-line winds. There was considerable damage across Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties. An F3 tornado produced damage near Schley to several miles N of Decorah. Just to the north of the tornado track, high winds produced a 98 mph wind gust at Cresco where it was one of the worst storms on record. The winds flattened many farm buildings along with many trees and wires were blown down.

July 20, 2003 - Severe storms swept across the state with the strongest storms moving from SE of Waterloo through Cedar Rapids to Muscatine and then into Illinois. This cluster of storms produced at least a half dozen tornadoes, including one that produced F2 damage, unroofing homes along a 1/4 mile long track in western sections of Cedar Rapids. A local TV station recorded 73 mph winds with trees and power lines down throughout the area with nearly half of the population without power at the height of the storm. The winds intensified near Muscatine with wind gusts estimated in excess of 90 mph.

July 18-21, 1999 - several rounds of thunderstorms produced excessive rains across parts of NE Iowa. Osage received 10.75", Charles City had 11.81" and New Hampton had 11.85". Record flooding occurred in many areas. The Cedar River inundated more than 100 homes in Charles City. The river gauge there went underwater and crested at an estimated 22.80 feet, a new record. In some places the Wapsipinicon River was nearly a mile wide.

July 9-26, 1901 - The temperatures at Sigouney were at 100 degrees or higher for all 18 days. The highest temperature for the month was at Sigourney with a reading of 113. At Ottumwa, the low temperatures on all 18 days were 70 degrees or higher with 4 of those days having readings in the lower 80's.

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


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