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.

AndrewTrackLandfall2

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.

AndrewTrackFull2

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.

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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.

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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.

warmesthighs1216

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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

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

4291956

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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.

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Posted under Weather History, Winter Weather

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

Winter Storm/Severe Weather Alerts at the Same Time

Here is a map showing the number of days, since October 1, 2005, that a state has had a Winter Storm and/or Blizzard Warning with a Tornado Watch at the same time in parts of the state.

tornado watch winter stormNotice Iowa has had 3 days with this happening.  One of those days was this last Wednesday, March 23rd when northern Iowa had Winter Storm Warnings in place at the same time southwest Iowa had a Tornado Watch.

This happens mostly in Colorado and Texas.

 

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Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on March 25, 2016

A Look Back at Another March Snow Storm

March 18-19, 2005

As we wait for the potential of a snow storm, here is a look back at different storm with heavy snow in almost the same area currently in the forecast. The map below shows some locations across northeast Iowa near a foot of snow. Notice how quickly the snow amounts drop off as you move south.

 

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Here is a list of some of the snow reports in Iowa.

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The map below shows the position of the storm on the morning of the 18th.

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Click here for more information about this storm.

 

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Posted under NOAA, Weather History, Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 22, 2016

Most Snow From a Storm on Record in Iowa

From the NWS Des Moines:

On This Date in Weather History…

March 10-14, 1951: A major winter storm began on March 10th with freezing rain in southern and western Iowa, then quickly switched over to nearly statewide snow that continued uninterrupted for an incredible 90 hours in some sections and intermittently for more than 100 hours in a few locations. Remarkable storm total snowfall accumulations resulted, including 27.2 inches at Iowa City which is the highest storm total snowfall on record anywhere in the state. Of the Iowa City total 21.1 inches fell in just two days on the 11th-12th. The storm brought all travel and transportation to a halt across most of Iowa, closed schools and businesses, and took out communications at times. A state of emergency was declared in some cities including Cedar Rapids where 19.9 inches of snow fell, with 11.1 inches of that total falling on the 12th. At New Hampton 18.0 inches of snow was reported on the 12th alone while Elkader reported 16.0 inches and Osage 13.0 inches. Storm total accumulations included 21.0 inches at Davenport and Marshalltown, 20.0 inches at Oskaloosa, 18.0 inches at Grinnell, 16.5 inches at Fort Dodge, 16.2 inches at Burlington, 16.0 inches at Castana, 15.5 inches at Dubuque, 15.0 inches at Ames, 13.9 inches at Algona, and 13.3 inches at Des Moines. The statewide average snowfall of 14.3 inches from March 10-14 makes this easily the heaviest snow storm on record in Iowa, nearly 4 inches above the second-heaviest storm which occurred on January 2-4, 1971.

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Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on March 10, 2016