Iowa’s First Photographed Tornado – 118 Years Ago

The first tornado to ever be caught on camera in the state of Iowa was captured on May 30, 1899.  It was taken in Kingsley around 7:30 in the evening. There were five tornadoes across the state that day.


Posted under Photo, Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 30, 2017

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May 27-29, 1947 Winter Storm

It has been 70 years since a major winter storm rocked parts of the Midwest, including Iowa, during the last few days of May in 1947.

A strong low pressure system tracked through Missouri into the Great Lakes Region, putting Iowa on the northwest side of the storm system.  As many of you probably know, 100 miles northwest of the center of low pressure is generally where the heaviest snow band falls.

A strong Canadian high pressure system to the north brought down the unseasonably cold temperatures, which allowed for snow to fall.

6-12 inches of snow fell from Wyoming, into Nebraska and far northwestern Iowa.  Closer to home in eastern Iowa, a few towns came in with some hefty snow totals:

Waukon: 7.5″
New Hampton: 4.0″
Decorah: 3.2″
Osage: 1.5″
Cresco: 1.0″

For more information, here’s a link from the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI.



Posted under Weather History, Weather Links, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 28, 2017

80°+ Temperatures across eastern Iowa

We are getting ourselves a taste of summer this weekend across the state of Iowa.  Here are the high temperatures from Sunday; All off us reached the lower 80s.

Average highs for Waterloo, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City don’t hit 80° until early June.  It’s been nearly 7 months since the thermometer reached 80° in Waterloo and Dubuque, while it’s only been a month for Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

In the next graphic, we look at the earliest 80° and latest 80° in the year (January to December).  Notice, within the last 5 years each city has reached it’s earliest 80° on record.


Posted under Temperatures, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on May 13, 2017

May 8, 1988 Tornadoes

On Mother’s Day in 1988 there was a tornado outbreak in eastern Iowa with almost two dozen tornadoes reported in Iowa. The map below shows the location, track and rating of each tornado.

The map below is the surface map from that morning as the cold front approached from the west.

The 500 mb map below shows the trough to the west of Iowa.


Posted under NOAA, Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on May 8, 2017

Average Number of Slight Risks (2003-2016)

Here’s a look at the average number of slight risks for severe weather (per year), issued by the Storm Prediction Center, over a 14 year span between 2003-2016.  The data is coming from the outlooks issued at 11 AM.  Notice, southwest Iowa is the bulls-eye, with an average 28 to 30 slight risks per year.  This data is coming from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.


Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on April 14, 2017

March 2017 Weather Review

March featured everything eastern Iowa has to offer — snow, sleet, rain, severe thunderstorms, tornado, heat, and cold.  Here’s a look back at the month in Waterloo, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.  (Note: Cedar Rapids and Iowa City do not have an official snowfall observation site)

In case you missed it — Iowa saw the most tornadoes on record for the month of March (dating back to 1950).


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on April 1, 2017

“Matthew” and “Otto” Retired as Hurricane Names

Hurricane Matthew

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will retire the names “Matthew” and “Otto” for Atlantic tropical systems, meaning they will no longer be assigned to future storms. These will be the 81st and 82nd names retired for the Atlantic basin. This happens when the tropical cyclone was very deadly or causes a devastating amount of damage during its lifespan.

Matthew will be replaced with the name “Martin” and Otto will be replaced with the name “Owen”. These changes will occur in 2022, when the 2016 list of names is reused. There are 6 lists of names, one list for one year. One list is repeated every seven years. For more information on Atlantic tropical system naming, click here.

For more information on Matthew and Otto being retired, click here.

Matthew forecasts and advisories.

Otto forecasts and advisories.

For other tropical cyclones in the Atlantic that have been retired, click here.


Posted under NOAA, Weather History, Weather Trivia

This post was written by Rachael Peart on March 27, 2017

SPC issues “High” Severe Weather Risk


January 22, 2017 Severe Weather Categorical Outlook

For the first time since 2014, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a “high” risk for severe weather. Areas affected include southern Georgia and northern Florida. A significant tornado outbreak is expected in those areas today after multiple tornado reports overnight Saturday into Sunday morning.

The last high risk day was on June 3, 2014 and included parts of southern Iowa – including Des Moines.  On that date, 16 tornadoes (but no casualties) were reported.


June 3, 2014 Severe Weather Categorical Outlook

The full outlook for June 3, 2014 can be found here.

This is an uncommon time of the year to have such strong storms. In fact, a high risk has not been issued in January since January 21, 1999…almost 18 years to the date. Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana were included in that high risk zone. That is also the earliest calendar date that a high risk has ever been issued. Reports of 99 tornadoes came during the outbreak of January 21-23, 1999. Most of those tornadoes touched down in the southern United States.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on January 22, 2017

Light Snow…Cold…Possible Ice Storm

9:30 PM UPDATE: Light snow moves into eastern Iowa overnight with accumulations around 1″ by sunrise Thursday. The roads will be slick due to the overnight snow. Allow time to get to your destination. Here is where the snow is this evening.
KWWL 2015 MAX Storm ED

A light wintry mix of sleet/snow/freezing drizzle in eastern Iowa continues to move east this evening.

KWWL 2015 MAX Storm ED

Tonight: Roads will be slick in some locations so use caution when traveling. A light wintry mix this evening followed by a chance of light snow or flurries overnight. Any snow accumulation overnight would be less than 1”. Combine temperatures dropping to around 10 degrees and a NW at 10-20 mph the wind chills late tonight will be in the single digits below zero.

DMA Forecast - Tonight NEW

Thursday: It is a cold day with highs in the teens and low 20s. Clouds in the morning give way to sunshine in the afternoon.

Wind Forecast

Thursday Night: The sky becomes mostly cloudy and it will be cold. Low temperatures are in the single digits above and below zero with the colder readings in the northern counties.

Friday: The wind is light as we are tracking light snow showers. Any accumulation will be less than 1”. Another cold day with highs in the teens.

Saturday: Temperatures warm into the 20s with a mostly cloudy sky.

Sunday: We are tracking a storm forecast to bring freezing rain to eastern Iowa late in the afternoon or evening. Freezing rain is possible through the overnight making roads icy.

The map below is a forecast model showing the potential for freezing rain (pink on the map) Sunday evening moving north.


Monday: Freezing rain may continue into the morning before changing to rain as temperatures warm. We are still many days away. We will continue to track this potential ice storm as the storm evolves.

Above normal temperatures are likely January 19-25.




Posted under Forecast Discussion, Ice, Long Range Outlook, Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on January 11, 2017

Christmas Day Weather History

Here’s a look at the weather history for Christmas in Waterloo and Dubuque…the only two site in eastern Iowa with official records.  Rain is in the forecast tomorrow, where we could have totals of 0.25″ to 0.75″ with locally higher amounts.  So, we’ll have to watch those rainfall records, as they may be in jeopardy.

Christmas History

Click here for more information on Waterloo’s Christmas Day history.

Click here for more information on Dubuque’s Christmas Day history.


Posted under Holiday, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on December 24, 2016