2018 Iowa Tornadoes (Through September 7)

It has been an active year for tornadoes across the state of Iowa.  Through September 7, 2018, National Weather Service in Des Moines reports 47 tornadoes touching down across the state.

But how does this compare to average?  We are a little ahead.  Take a look at the graphic below, it shows the number of confirmed tornadoes from 1980 through 2017 (a 28 year period, including 1980).  If you average the number of tornadoes (1,772) out, we get an average of 47 per year.  So, we are ahead in the number of tornadoes for the year.


Posted under Climate, Severe Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on September 7, 2018

2012 vs 2018 Droughts

Another heat wave is tracking into Iowa this weekend which may have you wondering how many days we’ve seen 90° or higher?

Waterloo typically reaches 90° or higher around 21 days a year. This is based on the average from 1895 to 2018. Below shows how many times Waterloo has hit 90° or more in the past 10 years, including this year.

2008 0 1 3 0 0 4
2009 0 3 0 1 0 4
2010 2 0 3 5 0 10
2011 1 5 10 3 1 20
2012 2 7 21 10 3 43
2013 1 1 9 6 3 20
2014 0 0 1 3 1 5
2015 0 1 2 1 3 7
2016 0 5 1 1 1 8
2017 0 8 3 0 6 17
2018 4 7 3 14

It’s obvious to note that 2012 was an extreme year. Most of July saw 90°+ days , 5 days were 100° or more. 2012 was also the year we saw a flash drought develop across the Midwest. A flash drought is when an area sees high temperatures and rapidly decreasing soil moisture in a short amount of time. Many farmers compared the drought to the one that happened in the 80s. July 2012 only recorded 0.76″ of rain (normal: 4.91″). Below is the extent of the drought in 2012.

100% of the state was in severe drought conditions and 30.75% of that was in extreme drought conditions. To compare to 2018, 11% of the state in currently in moderate drought conditions and 0.84% is in extreme drought conditions.

Unfortunately, little rain is in the forecast over the next 7 days along with warmer than normal temperatures. The drought will likely continue to expand across southern Iowa.


Posted under Climate, Drought

This post was written by Schnack on August 3, 2018

Halfway through (Meteorological) Summer

The third week of July marks the halfway point of meteorological summer. Meteorological summer is comprised of the three warmest months of the year, on average – June, July and August – in the Northern Hemisphere. This week also means that we’ve passed the warmest day of the year (on average, according to NOAA) for most of the state.

As far as the overall weather pattern, it has not been overly active in eastern Iowa this far. Most days recorded little to no rain in the big four:



Cedar Rapids:

Iowa City:

There were a few of heavy rain dates during the month of June. In fact, Waterloo set three rainfall records in June on the 9th, 18th and 30th. Cedar Rapids set a new rainfall record on the 21st of June by more than 0.5″.

A few heat waves plagued eastern Iowa since June 1st. If it wasn’t a technical heat wave, it felt like one when considering the humidity levels. Average high and low temperatures will start to go down by later this week. It looks like cooler than average air is on the way as we begin to round out the month of July.

CPC temperature outlook July 24-28, 2018


Posted under Climate, NOAA

This post was written by Rachael Peart on July 18, 2018

Warm May…Saturday Rain…Hot and Humid Again

It was a warm May.  The average temperatures for the month put most of the locations in top 5 warmest May on record.

We catch a nice break from the heat and humidity for the weekend as a cold front pushes through the state. A few showers and storms are possible Saturday…mainly in the afternoon. By the end of next week it will be hot and humid again. Next weekend looks hot and humid. Here is the temperature outlook for June 9-15.

Showers and storms to our west will weaken overnight. If any of the rain makes into eastern Iowa by morning it will be very light.

The front producing the storms this evening will bring a few showers/storms to eastern Iowa Saturday afternoon. No severe weather is expected. The showers will be scattered. The map shows the position of the front Friday evening.


Posted under Climate, Long Range Outlook, Temperatures

This post was written by Schnack on June 1, 2018

Ending our Stretch of 90+

After today, cooler air tracks into eastern Iowa. But, not before this heat wave goes down in the history books. Daily record highs were broken across the Big Four over the Memorial Day weekend.

This was the longest stretch of 90°+ during the month of May in Waterloo since 1934. Dust Bowl, anyone? Also known as the “Dirty Thirties”, several rounds of drought plagued the United States during the 1930s.

In 1934, the Waterloo area saw four days of 90°+ that May, like we did in May 2018.

Dubuque saw two days in a row of 90°+ this month while Cedar Rapids and Iowa City both also saw four days of 90°+ for May 2018.

Normal highs this time of year run in the 70s. Cooler air is on the way starting midweek.


Posted under Climate, Heat, Temperatures

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 29, 2018

Coldest April on Record

April 2018 goes into the record books as the coldest on record at Waterloo. As of yesterday, the average monthly temperature at Waterloo was 37.1° . Today’s numbers will push them up a bit. Here are the 10 coldest April’s in Waterloo.

Dubuque was also the coldest on record. The chart below is for Dubuque.

Cedar Rapids is no stranger to this record cold April either. Here are the number for Cedar Rapids.

Much of the Iowa and areas to the north had temperatures below normal in April.

This map below is broken up by climate districts. All of the districts with the number 126 in them represents the coldest April in those locations. One represents the hottest and 126 is the coldest.


Posted under Climate, Temperatures

This post was written by Schnack on April 30, 2018

Seasonal Snowfall

Snow may be the last thing on your mind with the warmer weather during this last full week of April. Temperatures have topped out in the 60s and 70s since last weekend.

Winter may have had its final encore for this season in eastern Iowa.

Let us take a look back. This season we have seen:

  • 45.6″ in Waterloo
  • 38.2″ in Dubuque
  • 41.6″ in Cedar Rapids
  • 26.7″ in Iowa City

Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City will all go down as above normal snowfall years (for the 2017-2018 season). Both Waterloo and Cedar Rapids had 10″ more snow than average. Dubuque will be the only member of the Big Four to end the season below normal.

More above (and some below) normal snowfall years occurred here in eastern Iowa over the past five seasons.


  • 2016-2017: 26.2″
  • 2015-2016: 46.0″
  • 2014-2015: 29.2″
  • 2013-2014: 58.0″


  • 2016-2017: 27.2″
  • 2015-2016: 34.8″
  • 2014-2015: 33.7″
  • 2013-2014: 63.3″

Cedar Rapids

  • 2016-2017: 17.4″
  • 2015-2016: 15.1″
  • 2014-2015: 24.1″
  • 2013-2014: 42.9″

Iowa City

  • 2016-2017: 11.7″
  • 2015-2016: 12.2″
  • 2014-2015: 24.8″
  • 2013-2014: 36.1″

Thank you for all of your reports and photos during the snow season. Now we look forward to your rain reports as temperatures continue to climb moving toward summer.


Posted under Climate, Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Rachael Peart on April 24, 2018

Chance of “Seasons”

The chart below is high and low temperatures reported in #Dubuque so far this month. Most of the month has been colder than normal.

The rest of the month is likely to be above normal.


Posted under Climate, Long Range Outlook

This post was written by Schnack on April 23, 2018

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

Snow in March?

Yes, even though March is known for the month of spring, snow does fall.  Typically, eastern Iowa sees anywhere from a few inches, to a half foot.  This March and last month have proven to be a little more on the snowy side.  Last year, a winter storm brought 2 to 10″ of snow to eastern Iowa on March 12th and 13th.  This year, of course, we had the 0 to 16″ snow event Friday night into Saturday.

That snow event set a record daily snowfall for Waterloo on March 24th, with 7.9″ of snow falling.  That beat the old record of 2.0″ set on that date in 1903.  Total snowfall for Waterloo was 8.5″, with 0.9″ falling before midnight Friday night.

Here are a look at the top 10 snowfalls for Waterloo, and some March snow stats:

As you can see, Waterloo only needs 1.1″ of snow to make it into the top 10 snowiest for March.  Will we do it? Possibly.

Here are a look at Dubuque’s stats.  Notice, we are several inches from the top 10 there.


Posted under Climate, Winter Weather

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