1978: Severe thunderstorms produced an F3 tornado that traveled across central Iowa from near Baxter through Grinnell killing 6 people and injuring 45 others. This was the last tornado to kill at least six people in Iowa until the Parkersburg storm of 2008. Many of the injuries and 4 of the fatalities occurred south of Grinnell at the Interstate 80 exit at Highway 146 where several businesses and vehicles were struck. The storms also produced large hail with stones as large as 3 inches in diameter falling around Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
1881: The earliest Iowa snowfall on record affected most of the western half of the state during the morning hours. September of 1881 was a wet month generally across the upper Midwest, and on the 15th a low pressure system moved northward over Chicago then turned west and stalled over Iowa on the 16th drawing unseasonably cool air into the state. As a result rain fell all day on the 15th then began to mix with snow at times across about the northwestern two thirds of Iowa on the morning of September 16th. At Sibley and Sac City the snow did not accumulate but observers indicated that “snow fell all day” and at Algona an estimated 4 inches of snow fell with another observer there noting that tree branches were broken by the weight of the snow, which all melted by noon. Snow was also reported at McGregor in northeastern Iowa and in the south and southwest was observed as “quite heavy” at Creston, while several inches were noted between Des Moines and Atlantic and 4 to 6 inches were estimated between Stuart and Avoca in Pottawattamie County. This is the earliest date of the fall on which any snow has ever been reliably recorded in Iowa.
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This post was written by Schnack on September 16, 2012