First Real-Time Computer Hurricane Forecast

August 14, 2018

On August 13, 1958, the first computer model forecast for a tropical system was issued.

University of Chicago scientists ran a forecast for Tropical Storm Becky. The storm had formed a few days prior.

Becky’s actual track

This computer model was not used in the official forecast for Tropical Storm Becky. Scientists tried computer models for three more storms that season, with 17 total forecasts issued in 1958.

For more information, click here.

For more information on the 1958 hurricane season, click here.


Posted under Tropics, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart
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Dry Air

August 13, 2018

Even through Monday was a humid day, with dew points in the mid 60s here on the ground, the atmosphere was very dry in the upper levels. Here is a look at the morning sounding from the National Weather Service forecast office in the Quad Cities. This is a vertical profile of the atmosphere measured by a weather balloon launched this morning. The temperature is the red line and the dew point is the green line. When the lines are apart, the air is dry and when they are close together it is moist.

The satellite image below shows the dry air over eastern Iowa…the brownish color. The air is moist or saturated in Nebraska south to Texas.

This dry air is going to hang around tonight and most of tomorrow before it is saturated enough for rain to fall. Right now the best chance of rain would be Tuesday night and Wednesday.


Posted under Educational, Forecast Discussion

This post was written by Schnack
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Smoky Sunrise/Sunset

August 13, 2018

By now you may have heard of the California wildfires. There are also fires in parts of Canada now, as well. These wildfires have been affecting Iowa for a few days now.

A tweet from Friday, August 10, 2018:

A tweet from Saturday, August 11, 2018:

From Sunday, August 12, 2018:


What exactly about the wildfire smoke that causes our sunrises to look… a little more fiery? It’s something called “Rayleigh scattering”.

The smoke particles scatter certain wavelengths of light when the light passes through the smoke. The wavelengths that pass through correspond with warmer colors like red and orange.

Dubuque sunset on Sunday August 12, 2018


Viewer submitted sunset enhanced by smoke from wildfires


This effect is enhanced when the sun is lower in the sky – sunrise and sunset.

Smoke may cause issues for sensitive groups or some of those with asthma.

For more information on the current air quality in Iowa, click here.


Posted under Fire

This post was written by Rachael Peart
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F4 Tornadoes in Eastern Iowa – 8/12/1974

August 12, 2018

Two damaging tornadoes tracked through eastern Iowa on August 12, 1974 casing major damage and several injuries.

The first tornado moved through the southern end of Ryan in Delaware County.  The tornado was an F4, damaging or destroying several dozen homes.  Two business were also hit hard, along with a school and Saint Patrick’s Church in town.  According to the National Weather Service Des Moines, the church and 20 other businesses were destroyed.  There were 12 injuries in Ryan.


Another tornado touched down in Iowa County, near Ladora.  Two people were injured, and the tornado swept away a farm house.  The Ladora tornado was also an F4.

The Fujita Scale (F-Scale) was retired in 2007, and replaced by the Enhanced Fujita Scale.  The F-Scale was based on the damage from the tornado.  Enhance Fujita Scale also takes into account the damage, but the ratings are put in line with coinciding wind speeds with the damage.  All based on estimates.

Below is the surface and upper air map from that day at 6 AM Iowa time.  You can see a cold front approaching from the northwest, and a dip in the 500 mb jet stream.


Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Kyle Kiel
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NASA is heading to the Sun

August 12, 2018

On the morning of August 12, 2018, NASA lauched the Parker Solar Probe. The liftoff took place at 2:31 a.m. CDT on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018. The Delta IV Heavy Rocket launched with the instrument in tow from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off for the Parker Solar Probe mission Sunday morning, August 12, 2018

The spacecraft is named after Dr. Eugene Parker, who first theorized the solar wind in 1958. What is the solar wind? It’s the stream of charged particles that flows away from the Sun. The Parker Solar Probe is the first spacecraft named for someone who is still alive.

Dr. Eugene Parker (seated) watches the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. Standing behind Parker is Nicky Fox, Parker Solar Probe project scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The unmanned mission takes seven years and includes 24 elliptical orbits of the Sun. Each pass becomes closer and closer to the surface of the sun. Parker Solar Probe’s mission takes it closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft in history.

According to NASA, Parker Solar Probe will fly to within 3.9 million miles of the Sun’s surface—more than seven times closer than the current record holder for a close solar pass, the Helios 2 spacecraft, which came within 27 million miles in 1976.

Not only will it get closer to the Sun than ever before but the Parker Solar Probe also will travel faster – max speeds expected to reach over 400,000 miles per hour – than any other spacecraft. This is set to be a record breaking mission for NASA.

The mission takes the Parker Solar Probe into the corona of the Sun. Remember the American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017?

A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

When the moon passes in front of the Sun, the corona is the outer layer that we are able to look at directly (only during totality, otherwise special glasses or viewing devices are required). The Parker Solar Probe hopes to discover why the corona is much hotter than the actual surface of the Sun.


You might be thinking “so the corona is hotter than the surface of the Sun…how is this thing not going to melt?” NASA engineered a special heat shield for the Parker Space Probe. Watch this video explain how this shield will keep all of the instruments much cooler:


Here’s a “don’t try this at home” experiment by NASA engineers to help explain:


Watch the launch video below:

To learn more about the mission to the Sun, visit NASA’s page here.


Posted under Astronomy, NASA

This post was written by Rachael Peart
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Smoke and Fog

August 10, 2018

The clouds over Iowa may pop a stray shower or storm this afternoon. The smoke to our west is not moving much. The smoke in Minnesota is moving south. Expect a smoky sky through the weekend. Smoke is from wildfires in western Canada.

Areas of fog this morning in eastern Iowa.


Posted under Fire, Fog, GOES

This post was written by Schnack
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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks this Weekend

August 10, 2018

Stargazers are in for a treat this weekend, as the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower is occurring.

The peak will be August 11th and 12th, with the best viewing between 10 PM and sunrise.

“Perseids” get their name, because the meteor shower occurs in the Perseus constellation in space.

During the peak, you will be able to see 60 to 70 meteors per hour.  They will best be viewed away from the city lights, and the moon.

More information about the Perseid Meteor Shower can be found on


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Kyle Kiel
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Smoke in the Sky

August 9, 2018

Here is a look at the sunset today in Waterloo. There was a lot of smoke in the air.

Credit: Kari

The smoke comes from the wild fires in the west part of the US and Canada. The map below shows where all the wildfires are today.

The satellite image shows how widespread the smoke was this afternoon. Smoke is all the areas with the red shading.


Posted under Fire

This post was written by Schnack
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Rain in Coralville and Iowa City

August 9, 2018

The radar shows two storms moving south through Johnson County this evening. The view from the camera is looking west from Coralville. You can see the rain from the cell NE of Coralville in the camera shot.

Here is a later image of the radar and camera. It was raining in Coralville where the camera is located. The shower is so small you can look through the rain and see the sun as it was setting. Pretty cool.

This image shows the sky is clear as the sun closes in on the horizon.

Here is a screen capture of the camera at the University of Iowa as it was raining.

Here is the tweet, of the rain, at the Iowa City newsroom.





Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Schnack
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24 Hour Rain Totals

August 6, 2018

Credit: NWS

Here is a look at some rain totals from 7 AM Sunday to 7 AM Monday.


Waterloo 3.69
Dubuque 2.90
Cedar Rapids 1.31
Iowa City 0.72
Ackley 9.2 NNE 3.27
Anamosa 1.9 SE 0.44
Anamosa 3SSW, IA 1.02
Aplington 6 NNW 3.16
Asbury 0.4 SW 3.90
Asbury 2 ENE 3.10
Bellevue 0.3 SSW 2.89
Bellevue LD 12, IA 3.20
Bluffton 0.58
Cedar Falls 0.4 WNW 3.64
Cedar Falls 1.4 SSE 3.82
Cedar Rapids 2.7 NE 1.30
Cedar Rapids 3.4 NW 1.44
Center Junction 2.6 W 1.72
Center Point 0.6 NNW 3.02
Central City 6.7 W 2.55
Coralville 1.3 SE 0.57
Decorah 4.9SE 0.81
Decorah 7.9 ENE 0.54
Dubuque #3, IA 2.75
Dubuque 1.4 WSW 3.91
Dubuque L&D 11, IA 3.05
Dysart 3.1 N 2.00
Ely 0.5 SE 0.04
Fairfax 4.0 NW 1.24
Gilbertville 1.0 NW 4.52
GUTTENBERG L & D 10, IA 2.36
Hopkinton 0.2 NE 5.74
Hopkinton 5.4 WSW 3.84
Independence 0.9 WNW 4.25
IONIA 2W, IA 1.23
Kalona 7.3 NNW 0.16
Kesley, IA 3.16
Lansing 4.1 NW 0.57
Marengo 2.6 SSW 1.32
Marengo 3.6 N 1.43
Marion 1.7 NNW 1.55
Marquette 0.2 NNE 2.49
Monona 9.7 N 1.32
Monona WWTP, IA 1.74
Monticello, IA 3.91
New Hampton 0.3 NNW 1.43
New Hampton 0.4 SW 1.43
Parnell 0.1 SSW 0.40
Peosta 2.9 E 3.44
Quasqueton 1.8 S 5.55
Rickardsville 0.2 W 3.10
Solon 0.3 ESE 1.37
Swisher 0.4 NNE 1.47
Tiffin 1.9 SW 0.69
TOLEDO 3 N, IA 1.61
TRAER, IA 2.13
VOLGA 1NE, IA 3.31
Washington 5.8 SW 0.04
Waterloo 1.8 SSE 4.20
Waukon 4SW, IA 0.94
Wellman 4.0 E 0.28
Winthrop 5.6 NNE 4.77




Posted under Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Eileen Loan
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