ICYMI Oct 22–October Snow/Warm Temperatures/Orionids

While we were basking in sunshine and temperatures in the upper 60s to near 70°, parts of the northeast saw an October Snow.


That photo was courtesy of NWS Burlington in Vermont.  As much as 3 to 5 inches of snow is expected, especially in higher elevations, in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Closer to home here in Iowa, we had October snow…just 3 years ago.  In fact, one inch accumulated in Waterloo.


We are now toward the end of October, where high temperatures should normally be in the upper 50s to near 60°.  That wasn’t the case today.


There’s a good chance that the warmer than normal (or near normal) temperatures will continue through the end of the month.


The Orionid Meteor Shower continues, even through the peak was October 21st.  Look in the southeast sky for a few meteors through November 7th.  Click here to learn more.

orionid-radiant (2)


Posted under Astronomy, Miscellaneous, Temperatures, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on October 22, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Facts

As we all know, Hurricane Matthew is heading from the Bahamas to the east coast of Florida, packing winds of 140 mph.  This is a Category 4 hurricane that previously made landfall in Cuba and Haiti, causing loss of life and property.

Here are some facts and figures about the Atlantic hurricane season, pertaining to Matthew.  All of this information comes from Dr. Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University.  You can follow him by clicking on this link.

Matthew Fact 3

Only 3 hurricanes since 1950 have impacted the Bahamas with stronger winds that Matthew‘s current winds (10/6 2:30 PM) of 140 mph: Andrew, Floyd & Frances

The Atlantic has generated its most ACE on record for the last 7 days (from Sept. 30 – Oct. 6), surpassing old record set in 1893. Matthew

7 hurricanes have made FL landfall with winds >= 140 mph: FL Keys, Great Miami, Okeechobee, Labor Day, Donna, Andrew & Charley.

The Bahamas have now had Cat 4 hurricane landfalls in 2 consecutive Octobers (Joaquin & ). 0 Oct. Bahamas Cat. 4 hits from 1867-2014

14 Cat. 4-5 hurricanes hit the U.S. from 1926-1969 (44 years), while only 3 Cat. 4-5 hurricanes have hit the U.S. since (46 years)

has now been a major hurricane for 6 days – the most by an Atlantic hurricane forming after Sept. 25 in over 50 years (Flora-1963)

The most recent Category 4 hurricane to make landfall along the east coast of Florida was Hurricane King (1950). Andrew was Cat. 5

Hurricane has reintensified to a Category 4 – the closest a Cat. 4 has been to the east coast of Florida since Floyd (1999).

is the first on record to make landfall as a major hurricane in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.

2 major hurricanes have hit the Bahamas the past 2 yrs (Joaquin & ). 2 most recent prior Bahamian major hurricanes were Ike & Irene.

6 hurricanes on record have made FL landfall at <940 mb MSLP: Labor Day, Andrew, FL Keys, Okeechobee, Great Miami & Donna.

(As of 10/6/2016): It has now been exactly 4000 days since the last major made U.S. landfall (Wilma-2005).

0 Cat. 4-5 hurricane landfalls on record (since 1851) have made landfall from approximately West Palm Beach north to GA/FL border.

3 Category 4-5 hurricanes have made United States landfall since 1970: Hugo-1989, Andrew-1992 and Charley-2004.

The only major hurricane on record to make October landfall along the east coast of Florida was Hurricane King (1950).

Hurricane has now been a major hurricane longer in October than any other Atlantic hurricane in over 50 years (Flora-1963).

Hurricane is the 14th Atlantic hurricane since 1950 to be a major hurricane for at least 120 consecutive hours.

No Atlantic tropical cyclone starting w/ the letter ‘M’ has made U.S. landfall as a hurricane. is 18th Atlantic TC to start w/ ‘M’

The most recent major to make landfall in Georgia was a Category 4 in 1898 – over 150 fatalities resulted.

Hurricane has produced more ACE in the first 5 days of October than all Atlantic TCs in Sept. of 2014 & Sept. of 2015 combined.

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season has now produced the most major hurricane days in a single Atlantic season since 2010.

Hugo (1989) was the last major hurricane to make landfall in SC. It made landfall as a Cat. 4 hurricane with max winds of 140 mph.

The most recent major to make landfall in North Carolina was Fran (1996)

2016 has already generated the most Accumulated Cyclone Energy in the Atlantic in October since 2005.

The 5 most recent major to hit the Bahamas are: Frances & Jeanne (2004), Ike (2008), Irene (2011) and Joaquin (2015).

The last hurricane to make landfall in South Carolina was Gaston (2004).

Hurricane Jeanne (2004) was the last major hurricane to make landfall along the east coast of Florida.

The last hurricane to make landfall along the east coast of Florida was Katrina (2005) as a Cat. 1.

Hurricane has been a Cat. 4-5 in the Caribbean longer than all other Atlantic hurricanes from 2008-2016 combined.

Hurricane is now the longest-lived major hurricane of the 2016 Northern Hemisphere TC season (surpassing Lionrock in NW Pacific).

The 5 most recent major hurricanes to hit the Bahamas are: Frances & Jeanne (2004), Ike (2008), Irene (2011) and Joaquin (2015).



Posted under Tropics, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on October 6, 2016

ICYMI Sep 8…Sunset/Rocket/Hurricane/Leaves/Rain

Here is a look at the rainfall in September through the 8th.

A nice Iowa sunset on Thursday. Here are few photos capturing the moment.


Click here to view the launch from Thursday.


On this day in 1900 a powerful hurricane made landfall in Texas. Back then, they have no way of knowing what was going to happen.  Because of that more than 8,000 people lost their lives.

WOW look at the map below from the Minnesota DNR
The leaves are starting to change color.


Posted under Astronomy, Fall Colors, NASA, Photo, Precipitation Totals, Tropics, Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on September 8, 2016

Hurricane Andrew Anniversary

On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew made U.S. landfall for the first time in south Florida. Just two days before, it strengthened quickly into a hurricane after it nearly fell apart in the central Atlantic Ocean. By the time Andrew made it to Florida, it was a Category 4 storm with sustained winds over 130 mph. Andrew tracked through the very southern tip of Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. It moved northwest into south central Louisiana as a Category 3 storm on August 26. Andrew then began to track northeast toward the mid-Atlantic as it began to weaken.


Ten days earlier, Andrew developed off of the western coast of Africa on August 14. It strengthened into a tropical depression on August 16 and earned the name Andrew once it became a tropical storm on August 17. For a few hours on August 23, Andrew sustained Category 5 status just prior to making landfall.


Over its lifetime, Andrew caused $26.5 billion dollars in damage  – the majority in Florida – and 23 deaths. A deadly tornado in southern Louisiana was another result of the storm. Andrew is the fourth strongest hurricane (by pressure) to make landfall in the United States.2

The storm name “Andrew” has been retired by the World Meteorological Organization.


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on August 23, 2016

Iowa State Fair Weather History

The Iowa State Fair is underway in Des Moines.  A few things have changed during the fair’s history – the location and the time of year. Official weather records have been taken in two different locations in Des Moines (near the U.S. Courthouse before 1940 and then at the airport since then).  The fair has been also been held in other parts of the state – some in eastern Iowa – before 1880.

It now spans for two weeks in mid August. Previously to 1900, the fair was held in September. As an open air event, it is quite vulnerable to weather. Over eight inches of rain fell on the 1977 State Fair, making it the wettest in history. Nearly half of that total fell on August 26th of that year. Last year’s fair is the 10th wettest with 3.08″ (2.48″ on August 18th, 2015).

State Fair History

In 1983, seven days recorded top 10 warmest temperatures. Not surprisingly, state fairs held in September were some of the coolest on record. Most recently, 2004 landed in the 7th spot for coolest fair with an average temperature of 65.3°.

Temperatures have stayed pretty steady over the past century since the fair has been held in August. Official climatology reports from 1878 have all been from Des Moines. There were no fairs held in 1898 or during World War II.


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on August 15, 2016

Excessive Heat Watch and 100° Heat

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for most of the area. Heat indices (the combination of the air temperature and the dew point) are expected to exceed 100°, and could be as high as 110°. The watch begins for some western counties on Wednesday and the rest of the area on Thursday. The entire watch will end on Saturday.

Excessive Heat Watch MW


Actual air temperatures will top out in the mid 90s, which isn’t too far off from what we’ve seen in the past couple of years. However, the National Weather Service hasn’t issued an excessive heat watch since July 2011.


Though it will feel like 100+° during the afternoon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, air temperatures have not been that warm since 2013. The chart below shows the last time the temperature was 100° or warmer:

City Date Temperature
Waterloo 7/25/12 104°
Dubuque 8/30/13 100°
Cedar Rapids 7/25/12 101°
Iowa City 9/8/13 105°

Cooler air (with highs in the 80s) is expected to track in on Sunday.


Posted under Uncategorized, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on July 19, 2016

A Look Back: “Charles City Tornado”

May 15th marks the 48th anniversary of what Iowans know as the “Charles City Tornado.”  This tornado was part of a major outbreak across the Midwest between May 15th and 16th, 1968.  In Iowa, the tornadoes caused 18 deaths and more than 600 injuries.  (Read more about this event, picture included, from the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI)

May 15 Charles City Tornado

The morning of May 15th started off with several reports of 2.5″ to 3.0″ size hail (tennis ball and baseball size) across many locations in eastern Iowa.  The atmosphere had time to recover, and by the afternoon several tornadoes struck the eastern part of the state; Two F5 tornadoes (winds 261+ mph) struck, along with two F1 tornadoes (73-112 mph), and one F2 (113-157 mph).

The first F5 tornado tracked through tracked from near Hansell in Butler Co., through Chickasaw, Floyd, Franklin and Hardin counties.  The F5 tornado tracked right through the heart of Charles City in Floyd County.  More than 350 homes and businesses were destroyed  in the city.  The tornado was on the ground for 65 miles in total, and destroyed about 2,000 homes total.  In Charles City alone that afternoon, there were 15 deaths and 450 injuries.

Oelwein and Maynard also took a direct hit from a second F5 tornado that Wednesday afternoon.  The tornado destroyed near 1,000 homes, and killed five people before falling apart near Randalia.

Below is the surface map from the morning of May 15th.  You can see a low pressure system located in Nebraska, with a stationary boundary draped across the state of Iowa, and a cold front extending from Nebraska down through Mexico.

charles city_______________________________________________________________________________

May 15, 1998 was also a violent day in Iowa for severe weather.  A severe weather outbreak resulted in at least 43 of Iowa’s 99 counties, and produced 13 tornadoes.  One of those tornadoes struck Washington, Iowa, packing winds 158 mph to 206 mph.  While there were no deaths reported, 47 people were injured from that tornado.




Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 15, 2016

Mother’s Day Severe Weather 28 Years Ago

After a few light rain showers early Mother’s Day morning, we had a very nice day with a partly cloudy to mostly sunny sky and temperatures in the 70s.  On Mother’s Day in 1988 (which happened to also be May 8th), there was a tornado outbreak in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

May 8th 1988


Fortunately, there were no deaths during the severe weather outbreak.  The severe thunderstorms in eastern Iowa produced large hail and damaging wind.

Below is the surface map from that morning.  You can see low pressure and a trailing cold front to the west, which served as the “trigger” for these storms and tornadoes to develop.

may 8, 1988


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 8, 2016

Big Iowa Snowstorm: April 29, 1956

It’s been rain and severe weather across the state of Iowa over the last week, but that wasn’t the case in 1956.  Parts of the state were dealing with a snowstorm that dumped heavy snow.  Here is the surface weather map from April 29, 1956.  You can see the low pressure in Missouri, with northwest Iowa being on that northwest side of the storm.


This is the latest date more than 10″ of snow has fallen in the state of Iowa.



Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on April 29, 2016

Iowa Blizzard April 8-10, 1973

Yes, we are talking about a blizzard in April, 43 years ago.  It happened April 8th through 10th, and it set all-time snow storm total records for Belle Plaine and Dubuque.  Belle Plaine received 19.2″, while Dubuque measured 19.2″ over the three day period.

April 8-10


A strong, 992 mb low pressure system developed and track through the state, creating 65 mph winds and very heavy snowfall.  Here is a look at the surface map from the height of the storm on April 9, 1973.  The high winds and heavy snow created low visibility, and at times produced 16 foot snow drifts.

snow april 8-10To read a bit more of some of the other snowfall totals across the state, and to see some pictures from the event, check out this blog post from the National Weather Service in Des Moines.


Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on April 10, 2016