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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!


Over the years, our chance for having a White Christmas has been steadily declining. Going over my weather records that go back to 1960, I found the following. They are the percentages for a white Christmas (1" or more of snow depth for the following decades).

1960's - 80%.

1970's - 60%.

1980's - 60%.

1990's - 50%.

2000's - 50%.

2010's - 30%.

2020's - 33%.

Here are the percentages for the 30 year periods:

1960-89 - 67%.

1970-99 - 57%.

1980-2009 - 53%.

1990-2019 - 43".

2000-2022 - 39%.

2010-2022 - 31%.

You can see the dramatic changes! This year doesn't look much better with the El Nino and persistent drought.


We had our first "cat-tracking snow on Nov. 26th, so we can apply the 5 different formulae to see how many snows we will receive this season.

 Date only - 26 snows.

 Days since the new moon - 13 snows.

 Days since the new moon plus the date - 39 snows.

 Days since the full moon - 29 snows.

 Days until Christmas - 29 snows.

 The average of all 5 formulae - 27 snows.


I didn't see any woolly bears this season, not even a dead one. It was the first time in my 46 years of watching them that I didn't see any! Based on the 12 reports that I received, they are predicting a warmer than normal winter.


After researching my 63 years of records I have found that our Decembers are getting warmer. The average temperature for the period form 1960-1999 was 23.4 degrees. Since 2000 it has warmed to 25.6 degrees and from 2010-2022 it has risen to 27.3, 3.9 degrees warmer. We also have 2 less days with 0 degree readings during the month.

The number of days with maximum temperatures of 32 degrees or colder during the month went from 15 days during the period of 1960-99 down to 13 days since 2000 and down to 10 days from 2020-2022.

The number of days with 1" or more of snow on the ground has fallen from 14 days during 1960-99 down to 11 days since 2000. Since 2010 it has fallen to just 7 days.


Since we haven't had much in the way of snowfall this month I thought I would wet your appetites with these two events. The first one is:

Dec. 14-15, 1987 - A major snowstorm swept over the eastern half of the state during the afternoon of the 14th and into the morning of the 15th. Most areas received from 5" to 10" with several locations in E.C. and S.E.Iowa receiving from 10" to 14".

 Thunderstorms with sleet and some small hail accompanied the snow over S.E. potions of the state during the early morning hours. Winds from 30 to 50 mph reduced the visibility to zero at times over the eastern one third of the state. Travel in many areas was brought to a standstill. Here are some of the higher amounts in the local area.

 Clinton - 12.3".

 Quad Cities - 11.4".

 Lowden - 10.4".

 Vinton - 8.5".

 Dubuque - 8.3".

 Maquoketa - 8.0".

 Cedar Rapids & Iowa City - 6.0".

The second storm was on Dec. 2-3, 1990 - A strong low pressure system moved N.E.'ly from Oklahoma up to S.E. Wisconsin. A combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain fell during the evening hours across S.E. Iowa. Almost 8" to 12" of snow fell across a large portion of the state. One foot or more of snow fell from N.E. of Des Moines to Vinton then over towards Dubuque. Thunder accompanied the heavy snow over the S.E. half of the state from late evening of the 2nd to the early morning of the 3rd. Winds caused considerable blowing and drifting of the snow with the average speeds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 to 50 mph at times. The highest wind gust reported was 69 mph at Cresco during the early morning hours. Dubuque recorded a gust of 56 mph around 3:00 a.m and I had a gust of 50 mph around this time. There were drifts up to 10 feet in places.

The combination of wind and heavy snow caused the dome roof on the sports practice stadium at Iowa City to collapse around 5:30 a.m of the 3rd. The damage was estimated around $2 million. There were power outages in some areas due to the weight of the wet snow and wind. Schools were closed. Here are some of the higher snowfall amounts.

 Dubuque - 15" to 17".

 Lowden - 14.5".

 Clinton - 12.0".

 Ananmosa & Tipton - 11.0".

 Iowa City - 10.0".

 Cedar Rapids - 9.8".

Quad Cities 5.5"

Madison, Wisconsin-17.3"

Stuck car during the 1990 blizzard in Madison, Wisconsin.

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


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