Record Lows & the Continuing Cold

Record lows could be reached across the area for April 1. It will all depend on if skies stay clear and winds stay low. 

Besides the daily low records, it could also be one of the coldest Easters across eastern Iowa. Below indicates the coldest lows for Easter in Waterloo since records began.

Date Low
4/2/1899 15°
4/11/2004 16°
3/30/1975 17°
3/29/1970 19°
4/11/1982 19°


If Waterloo hits, a low of 14° tomorrow it will be the 3rd coldest on record. Below are the record cold highs for Waterloo on Easter.

Date High
3/24/1940 21°
3/29/1964 21°
4/4/1920 30°
3/30/1975 31°
4/8/1928 33°
4/9/1950 33°
4/2/1899 34°
3/25/1951 34°
3/29/1970 34°
3/23/2008 35°


Tomorrow could be in the top 10 for coldest Easters on record in Waterloo. It’s also worth pointing out that if the airport only records a temperature of 34° or less, it will be the coldest Easter in the last 42 years!

Dubuque may be breaking Easter records tomorrow as well. Below are the record lows for Dubuque.

Date Low
3/30/1975 10°
3/25/1951 14°
3/29/1970 15°


If Dubuque hits a low of 14°, it could be tied for the 5th coldest low on Easter. Dubuque has a forecast high of 36° tomorrow which could put it into the top 10 for coldest Easters.

Date High
3/25/1894 18°
3/24/1940 23°
3/29/1964 24°
3/30/1975 25°
4/8/1928 32°
4/4/1920 33°
4/13/1952 34°
4/9/1950 35°
4/2/1899 36°
3/29/1970 37°

Similar to Waterloo, if Dubuque stays at 36° or less, this will be the coldest Easter in over 40 years!

Even if records aren’t broken, it will be a cold Easter for everyone across the state of Iowa.

And since I’m only providing great news (sarcasm), the Climate Prediction Center released it’s April outlooks today. We know the next 7 days will be cold and it looks like that stretch will continue into the following week.

Precipitation is expected to be near normal from April 8-14.

And it probably comes as no surprise, the Climate Prediction Center has confidence in Iowa staying below normal for April. Precipitation may be a bit above normal for the month. I’m sure most of us hope that it is in the form of rain…


Posted under Climate, Holiday, Records, Temperatures

This post was written by Schnack on March 31, 2018

Friday: Flooding and Flash Flooding

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa ends today, but the important lessons continue. Today’s topics are Flooding and Flash Flooding.

There is a difference between “flooding” and “flash flooding”.  Both involve a lot of water, of course, where it shouldn’t be running.

Flooding usually occurs over a long stretch of time and can affect a very large area. The river floods of 1993 and 2008 are examples of “flooding”.

Flash floods are just as they sound… they happen in a flash! They typically occur over a relatively small area and can sometimes occur in a matter of minutes, and streams will usually be back within their banks within an hour or so.

Both are dangerous and should never be taken lightly.

If you were living in Iowa in 1993 or 2008, you remember the major flooding that occurred.

Downtown Cedar Rapids, 2008 photo taken by Iowa Civil Patrol



Coralville flooding in 2008- photo by U.S. Geological Survey



Union Pacific Railroad Bridge- photo Waterloo Courier via National Weather Service Des Moines



River flooding generally takes a lot of time to get to those levels. Saturated soil and heavy rainfall over many days will lead to flooding.

Flash flooding is much faster. In our area it is usually caused by a lot of rainfall in a short period of time. This causes rapid rises on creeks and streams which will then rush into rivers and work downstream in a sort of large wave of water.



It may only take 6 inches of fast-moving water to knock you off of your feet.



Never walk through flooded streets- manhole covers may no longer be there and you will drop under the water quickly.

Never drive through flooded roadways. As mentioned in the graphic above, it only takes a little bit of water to wash your car away. And, your road may no longer be there.

Highway 6 near the Cedar River at Atalissa, 2008- photo by Iowa Department of Transportation









Never drive around barriers. They are there for a reason. Be very careful driving at night.



To learn more about flood safety in Iowa, click here.  The National Weather Service also provides a lot of information here.



Posted under Education, Flooding, Rivers, Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 30, 2018

Chinese Space Station is Coming Down


Tiangong-1 (Chinese Space Station) is currently predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere between 2 AM and 8 PM Sunday, April 1, 2018. Still don’t know where.


The Chinese Space Station, Tiangong-1, is expected to make an uncontrolled reentry to Earth between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Since 2013 it has been unoccupied and there has been no contact with it since 2016. The craft is expected to burn up upon reentry of the Earth’s atmosphere. There is a slight chance small debris makes it to Earth. The odds of any debris from the craft hitting anyone is less than one in 1 trillion. Iowa has a slightly higher change of seeing it burn up in the sky. Check out the map on a previous post.  The weather forecast keeps clouds away from Iowa for most of the weekend.

The video below shows a little more about what might happen and what it could look like as it burns up.

The image below shows how the craft has been slowly losing altitude in March. In January it was at 300 km above Earth. At the beginning of March it was about 250 km and now it is close to 200 km. The forecast shows it falling fast in the next couple of days.

The chart below shows how the prediction has been narrowing down to a specific date. In early March the forecast range was from around the end of March to the first week in April. Now we looking at March 31 to April 1.

Upon reentry of the Earth’s atmosphere the craft will begin to fall apart. Around 80 km above Earth, it will burn up with the potential for small debris reaching the ground. The potential size of the area with that possible debris is the yellow rectangle in the image below.


Posted under Astronomy

This post was written by Schnack on March 29, 2018

Thursday: Family Preparedness

Today’s topic is FAMILY PREPAREDNESS. Nobody knows when a disaster will happen to you. Don’t have the …it won’t happen to me…attitude. If you are prepared the disaster will be easier to handle. You need to have a plan for you and your family. It is best to make a plan now and know what to do when severe approaches and what to do after the storm. HAVE A PLAN. These four steps can help you.

Step 1: Answer these questions…

1) How are we going to receive watches and warnings? (Check back to the Tuesday topic to help you with that information.)

2) Where will I take shelter?

3) Evacuation route?

4) What is the communication plan?

Step 2: What are the needs for each member of your house? Don’t forget your pets needs.

Step 3: Write out the plan on paper. This link will help you.

Step 4: Practice…go through the motions on what you will do and here you will go. Practice the plan.

This link has more details on the above steps.


Click on the image below to get a printable list of items you should have before a disaster occurs.

The three videos below are what you should do before, during and after a tornado in your area.



Posted under Education, NOAA, Severe Weather, Video

This post was written by Schnack on March 29, 2018

Issued Tornado Warnings

The map below shows the year the last tornado warning was issued across Iowa. Example: The areas in dark red show a warning was issued in 2017. There were many issued last year across southeast Iowa. Parts of Winneshiek County have not had a tornado warming issued since early 2000. The data on this map goes back to 2002. There are two very small areas in Allamakee County that have not had a tornado warning since at least 2001.

Now this map below shows the amount of days from the last time each National Weather Service Office has issued a Tornado Warning. It has been 272 days for Des Moines, 251 days for La Crosse and 164 days for Quad Cities.


Posted under Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 28, 2018

Wednesday Morning Frost


Posted under Frost, Photo

This post was written by Schnack on March 28, 2018

Increased Warning Times

We are always striving to inform you about severe weather before it hits your location. Right now the lead time for tornado warnings is about 13 minutes. Researchers are working on trying to increase time while decrease the false alarms. Check out the video below from the National Severe Storms Laboratory.


Posted under NOAA, Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 28, 2018

Wednesday: Tornadoes

The topic today is all about tornadoes.

Earlier this morning tornado was a tornado drill. A test watch and warning were sent. This test was not going to activate the Wireless Emergency Alert (WES) messaging system on cell phones. 3rd party mobile and desktop applications varied in behavior and performance based upon coding within the application.

They are one of the most violent forms of weather we have here on Earth. They can destroy lives and livelihoods in a matter of seconds.

Let’s start with what is a tornado? The official definition from the National Severe Storms Laboratory is A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. Tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric storms.

Tornadoes occur in many parts of the world. The United States has more tornadoes than any other part of the world. Argentina and Bangladesh are the next two countries with the highest concentration of tornadoes. The map below shows areas that are more favorable to see tornadoes.

Here in Iowa, tornadoes can occur any time of the year. Here is a chart showing the number of tornadoes for each month of the year from 1980-2016.  It shows zero for January and February, but before 1980 there were some in those months. June is the month with the most tornadoes followed behind with May. April and July are a distant 3rd and 4th.

Each year, about 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States. Official records have only been kept since 1950. There are a lot more storm chasers and public reports in the last 10-20 years observing them. This helps in keeping accurate tornado records. Iowa had 55  tornadoes in 2017, just above average.

Here is the break down in the EF-scale rating from the 2017 Iowa torandoes.

Most of the tornadoes were the weaker ones (EF0 and EF1)…this is typical. Not very often does Iowa or the rest of the U.S. see EF4 or EF5 tornados. Tornadoes are ranked on an EF Scale (Enhanced Fujita) based on the damage it has done.

The video below shows the birth of a tornado in May 2013 in Oklahoma.


The video below is a look behind the scenes at the Storm Prediction Center on the forecast process of a severe weather outbreak.

During tornado coverage you might hear terms you are unfamiliar with. Here are just a few you might hear. Hopefully we don’t have to talk about the first or third one in real-time.

Here is a link to commonly asked questions about tornadoes.

Another link with more facts and figures about tornadoes.

When there is chance of severe weather and tornadoes, you need to pay attention to your weather surroundings. Tornadoes can move as fast as 60 mph. On the other hand some move less than 5 mph. The average speed is 10-20 mph. Make sure you have a plan on what to do before severe weather threatens you. This will be the topic tomorrow. Severe weather preparedness.


Posted under Education, Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 28, 2018

Tuesday: Receiving Warning Information

It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa, and each day we are talking about an important topic to prepare for severe weather.  Today we look into receiving warning information.

First, it’s important to know the difference between a watch and warning.  Whether it be a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood, a WATCH indicates conditions are favorable severe within the next few hours (up to 6, generally).  A WARNING means severe weather is imminent, and you need to take action immediately.

In order to get those warnings, you should have multiple ways of receiving severe weather alerts.

Of course, in the event of severe weather, KWWL will be first on the air to bring you the latest updates.  When a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch is in effect, we will have updates at least every half hour on TV.  Once a warning is issued, we will be on air immediately with the latest track and have important information to keep you safe.  Once a Tornado Warning is issued, KWWL will be wall-to-wall on KWWL 7.1, CW 7.2 and MeTV 7.3.  We will also be streaming live on the KWWL News App, as well as the KWWL Facebook page.

The watches and warnings will also scroll across the top of our website,, and will go directly to the KWWL Facebook and Storm Track 7 Facebook pages, as well as Storm Track 7 Twitter.

As you are probably aware, the Wireless Emergency Alerts on your phone will alert you, based on where you are located.  This is also the case with the FREE Storm Track 7 weather app.  Click here to learn more about the app, and download it today.

One of the best ways to keep you up-to-date on severe weather, is getting a NOAA Weather Radio.  They can generally be found at your local hardware store and some grocery stores.  Once you purchase it, you can program the radio to any county you want to receive warnings for, and for any weather event you want to be alerted about (severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash flooding, winter storm, etc.)

Here’s a video on how to program a NOAA Weather Radio.

Wednesday’s blog post will be all about tornadoes, and how common the are in Iowa.


Posted under Education, Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 26, 2018

Monday: Severe Thunderstorms

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service have designated March 26 through March 30 as Severe Weather Awareness Week 2018. Each day, Monday through Friday, we will focus on one aspect of severe weather.

The first topic of the week is severe thunderstorms (of which there are none expected today). This is nothing new to Iowans. During the spring and summer months, we see numerous severe thunderstorm alerts. But first, how does a thunderstorm develop?

As mentioned in the video above, we are most likely to get severe weather when the storm is in its “mature” stage. For more information on thunderstorms, you can visit the NWS learning page here.

While all storms have the potential to cause damage, severe thunderstorms must meet certain criteria:

A storm must produce hail at least one inch in diameter and/or straight line winds of at least 58 mph. A thunderstorm that produces a tornado is considered severe but will cause a Tornado Warning to be issued. A high amount of lightning strikes is not a criteria for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

The National Weather Service office in Des Moines issued more than 200 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in 2017.

The La Crosse, Wisconsin office issued 184 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. There were 197 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings issued from the office in Davenport.

Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are the most frequently issued weather alert by the Des Moines weather service office.

The office issued at least 100 warnings per year for severe thunderstorms every year since 1996.

Most of the warnings come during the spring and summer months. Over the last 30 years, the bulk of the warnings are sent out during the months of May and June, with June seeing the most warnings from the Des Moines office. The graph below breaks down Severe Thunderstorm Warnings by week issued by the National Weather Service in Des Moines from 1986 – 2017. The top graph shows how many years at least one warning was issued during a particular week of the month. The bottom graph shows how many warnings were issued during each week of the year.

The National Weather Service is continuing to hold storm spotter training in eastern Iowa and southwest Wisconsin through early next week.

If you are interested in attending, it is free. However, if you either don’t live in those counties or unavailable at those times, there are online training sessions, as well. The La Crosse, Wisconsin office hosts their online webinars on April 6 (1:00pm – 3:00pm) and April 16 (7:00pm – 9:00pm). You can email for more information on accessing those sessions.

The Des Moines office hosts online training on April 4 (7:00 PM – 8:30pm) and April 18 (7:00pm – 8:30pm).
Go to:
Dial: 1-866-231-8384 and enter 515-270-2614
iPhone/iPad and Android phone: Join.Me applications can be downloaded at
Smartphone user access is: nws-desmoines
Contact Information: NWS Des Moines Phone: 515-270-2614

If you would like to watch a past storm spotter training, you can view a playlist by clicking here.

For more information on the storm spotter program, click here and choose your county.

The next blog will feature information on how to receive warning information.


Posted under Education, Severe Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 26, 2018