GOES-S Set to launch this week

The second in a series of upgraded satellites is set to launch this week. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (or GOES-S) has a launch date of March 1, 2018.

GOES-S will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Once in orbit, it will be known as GOES-17 / GOES West. Click the image below for animation

It will work with GOES East (also known as GOES-16 and formally known as GOES-R) to provide satellite and other weather information for the United States. This will be especially useful to keep an eye on the different types of weather the western portions of the country experience. We will be able to see storms in the eastern Pacific Ocean better that could cause catastrophic damage in higher quality.

For more information on GOES-S and the satellite series, click here and click here.
Follow NASA’s blog on the GOES satellites by clicking here.


Posted under GOES, NASA, NOAA

This post was written by Rachael Peart on February 28, 2018

Flood Warning for Black Hawk Creek at Hudson


Posted under Flooding, Rivers

This post was written by Schnack on February 28, 2018

Rain and some snow

We are tracking a storm forecast to move across Missouri Wednesday night. Rain develops across southern Iowa Wednesday evening and spreads north overnight. As the low moves east colder air wraps in and changes the some of the rain to light snow before it ends early Thursday morning. Little to no snow accumulation is expected. The sky becomes mostly sunny by the afternoon with a gusty northwest wind to 30 or 35 mph. Thursday will be the coldest day of the next seven with highs in the upper 30s. Highs return close to 50 this weekend.


Posted under Update

This post was written by Schnack on February 27, 2018

Not Much Snow

The last post on the blog was about snow and so is this one. I took a look at the current snow total for the winter in Waterloo and Dubuque. So far this winter Waterloo has 22.0″ of snow. In the last 30 years, 22.0″ is the 5th least snowiest winter…so far. I know there is still a chance to get more show in the next two months, but as of right now those are the numbers.

Here are the stats for Waterloo.

Take a look at the numbers for Dubuque. The 2017-18 winter snow total is 22.0″, the same as Waterloo. The ranking is the 2nd least snowiest winter in the last 30 years.

The chart below shows the departure from normal when it comes to snowfall for the season.


Posted under Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on February 26, 2018

Snow After February

Once we get past the month of February, many people turn their focus onto the spring months, warmer temperatures, and getting rid of the chance for snow.  Well, this is Iowa, and we know it’s not that easy.

In eastern Iowa, the months of March and April do produce a little bit of snow, but not much.

Here’s a look at how things stacked the past three winters in March and April.

Waterloo March 2017: 10.6 March 2016: 2.9” March 2015: 0.7”
April 2017: 0.0” April 2016: Trace April 2015: Trace
Dubuque March 2017: 4.5” March 2016: 2.8” March 2015: 4.1”
  April 2017: 0.1” April 2016: 0.5” April 2015: 0.0”
Cedar Rapids March 2017: 5.1” March 2016: 1.0” March 2015: 0.8”
April 2017: 0.0” April 2016: 0.0” April 2015: 0.0”
Iowa City March 2017: 3.0” March 2016: 0.5” March 2015: 0.2”
April 2017: 0.0” April 2016: 0.0” April 2015: 0.0”

You can see there was a higher amounts of snow last March, compared to average.

Here are the seasonal averages below. We are more than halfway there for the ‘Big 4.’  We’ll have to wait and see what March and April have in store.


Posted under Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on February 25, 2018

24 Hour Rain Totals

6 AM Thursday to 6 AM Friday

Town Rain
Waterloo 0.26
Dubuque 0.14
Cedar Rapids 0.10
Iowa City 0.12
Ainsworth 7.4 N 0.15
Anamosa 3SSW 0.13
Asbury 0.4 SW 0.13
Bellevue LD 12 0.07
Cedar Falls 1.4 SSE 0.24
Cedar Rapids 2.7 NE 0.16
Center Junction 2.6 W 0.14
Center Point 0.6 NNW 0.21
Central City 6.7 W 0.16
Decorah 4.9SE 0.21
Decorah 7.9 ENE 0.19
Dubuque #3 0.15
Dubuque 1.4 WSW 0.15
Dubuque L&D 11 0.08
Dysart 3.1 N 0.26
Ely 0.5 SE 0.10
Fairfax 4.0 NW 0.17
GUTTENBERG L & D 10 0.22
IONIA 2W 0.28
Kalona 7.3 NNW 0.14
Marion 1.7 NNW 0.20
Monona WWTP, 0.23
Monticello 0.14
Mount Auburn 2.2 NNW 0.04
New Hampton 0.3 NNW 0.30
New Hampton 0.4 SW 0.25
Parnell 0.1 SSW 0.14
Quasqueton 1.8 S 0.22
Sigourney 1.1 W 0.13
Solon 0.3 ESE 0.14
STANLEY 4 W 0.21
TOLEDO 3 N 0.23
TRAER 0.24
VOLGA 1NE 0.26
Waterloo 1.8 SSE 0.28
Waucoma 3.2 S 0.25
Waukon 4SW 0.27
Wellman 4.0 E 0.13

Posted under Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Schnack on February 23, 2018

Thursday evening winter weather update

We are tracking rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow across central and eastern Iowa this evening. The radar this evening is showing the intensity of the precipitation increasing. It is moving northeast. Areas of fog should be expected as well. Visibility is reduced to less than 1 mile at times.

The road temperatures across northern Iowa are now below freezing. Roads are starting to get icy. Use caution traveling tonight. Allow extra time to get to your  destination. Also leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Bridges and over passes (elevated surfaces) will freeze faster. Here are the road temperatures this evening.

While the roads in eastern Iowa are icy, it is cold enough for snow in northwest Iowa. The roads are completely covered with snow. Here is an image from an Iowa DOT plow near Rock Rapids in far northwest Iowa.

The image below is from Sioux City.

This maps shows where all the Iowa DOT plows are this evening. And where they are the roads are icy or snow covered.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY is in effect tonight for areas along and north of Highway 20 for freezing rain, sleet and snow.

Within the advisory area, parts of it will see light snow. Accumulations up to 1″ are possible with a glaze of ice.

Heavier snow is expected to our north and northwest. So if you have travel plans taking you in that direction allow plenty of time tonight and early tomorrow.


Posted under Ice, Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on February 22, 2018

Record Snow Depth

The highest official snow depth recorded in Iowa was 42″. It was reported in Sioux Center February 20-22, 1936.


Posted under Weather History

This post was written by Schnack on February 21, 2018

Snow Depth

Here is a look at the snow depth plotted per day for Waterloo and Dubuque this winter. We have not had snow on the ground for very long after each time it snows.

I remember years when it snowed early in the season and the snow stayed on the ground all winter. Like the winter of 2010-11. Once the ground was covered with snow it didn’t melt for a couple months.

Here is a look at the snow depth across Iowa today. Not much across much of the state. The recent warm weather and rain got rid of a lot of snow in the last week.

There is a lot of standing water in fields, yards and in some cases people homes. The water has doesn’t have many places to go. The ground is frozen and can’t absorb any of the snow melt or rain. The map below shows the heavier rain across parts of eastern Iowa. Even more rain in Illinois.

Here are a couple 2 day rain totals:
Waterloo: 0.48″
Dubuque: 1.24″
Cedar Rapids: 0.93″
Iowa City: 1.52″



Posted under Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on February 20, 2018

Rain vs. Freezing Rain vs. Sleet vs. Snow

A lot of the time when we have freezing rain or sleet in the forecast, with temperatures below freezing, we get asked “why isn’t this snow?”.  The answer has to do with the “vertical temperature profile.”  Twice a day, more than 900 weather balloons are launched worldwide, that have devices that record several weather parameters as it floats up in the atmosphere.  We look at the temperature and dew point when forecasting clouds, and precipitation.

This is a forecast sounding from one of our weather models for this morning’s freezing rain event.  Some of eastern Iowa saw rain and thunderstorms, others saw freezing rain, thunder freezing rain, and even a few reports of sleet.  I took this screenshot of a forecast sounding average for some of our northern counties, which saw the freezing rain this morning.  The temperature is across the bottom (in Celcius.. so 0°C=32°F), and is skewed as it goes up in pressure (left side).

For freezing rain, the atmospheric profile above is a pretty classic case.  We have temperature below zero from the top of the atmosphere, until we get down to about 10,000 ft. above the ground.  That’s when temperature go above freezing, and it’s a pretty deep layer of warmer air ,to about 2,000 ft off the ground.  The snow then melts into rain, but as it hits the cold layer at the surface, there’s no time for the rain to change back to snow, so it freezes on contact, and we get scenes like this.

To make things simple, all precipitation starts out as ice crystals way up in the clouds.  As the ice crystals grow/collide with others, snowflakes are formed, and continue to fall through the clouds.  What happens after that depends on the temperature (as well as wind & dew point, but we’ll focus on temperature).  If the temperature stays below 32° all the way through the atmosphere, we have snow.  If the snow hits a layer of shallow, warm air, the snowflake will begin to melt into a rain drop, but then falls into a deeper layer of colder air, and refreezes into an ice pellet, which we know as sleet.   See the picture below for a better idea.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Photo, Questions Asked, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on February 20, 2018