Windy Wednesday

No doubt about it, Wednesday was quite the windy day across Iowa.  There were several reports of 45 to 55 mph wind gusts, with a few locations across the state reaching more than 60 mph!  The culprit? A fast moving Alberta clipper system.  These storm gain strength on the lee-side of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, and generally travels at a quick pace to the southeast.  Coming from Canada, these don’t generally carry a lot of moisture, but there are times they can produce a few inches of snow.

The position of the low was in the Great Lakes region Wednesday evening.

Here are some local top wind gusts.

And here are some from across the station.  This information comes from the National Weather Service offices in Des Moines, Davenport, and La Cross, WI.



Posted under Windy

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

Tags: ,

Windy Wednesday

You might have woken up this morning to a little bit of a breeze. Winds strengthened early this morning as a system tracks away from the area. Strong winds stick with us through the day. In a previous blog, we discussed the basics of what causes the wind to blow (click here for the Wind FAQ post).

In the two photos below, the thick black lines represent the isobars – lines of equal pressure. Note how many isobars there are over the state of Iowa versus Arkansas or Alabama. More isobars means stronger winds over an area. Isobars in the next two photos are plotted every 2 millibars. Click on a photo to enlarge it.

National analysis of sea level pressure and winds. 9AM CST November 15, 2017


Zoomed analysis of sea level pressure and winds. 9AM CST November 15, 2017

The graphic below shows the isobars in blue as well as the station models across Iowa. A station model plots multiple weather variables in a compact package. Winds on a station model are noted by a single line extending from each small circle. If there is no wind, there will only be a circle.

Each of the station model plots below feature the main line as well as smaller barbs extending from it. The barbs depict different wind speeds in knots (kts). Long barbs represent 10 kts and short barbs represent 5 kts. The direction of the main line shows the direction from which the wind is coming.

Isobars are the blue lines below and are plotted for every millibar.

Iowa analysis of sea level pressure and station models. 9AM CST November 15, 2017 (Iowa Mesonet)

More strong winds move in later this week.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on November 15, 2017

Record Low Iowa Barometric Pressure

The lowest recorded barometric pressure for the state of Iowa occurred on November 10, 1998, where a very strong storm passed through the state.  The lowest pressure of 28.54 inches of Mercury, or 966 millibars, was recorded at Estherville and Spencer in the northwestern part of the state.

Every weather station in the state reported at least 50 to 60 mph wind gusts.  The highest wind gust from this intense storm system was 93 mph in La Crosse, WI.  Waterloo had a 68 mph wind gust, while Ottumwa had a 67 mph wind gust, and Mason City at 66 mph.

You can read the list of wind reports by clicking here.

Here’s the upper air chart from that day (500 mb) showing the strong storm tracking through the northern plains and Midwest.


Posted under Weather History, Windy

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on November 10, 2017


Strong Fall Storms

November is a month known for large storms across Midwest and Great Lakes area. Many producing widespread strong winds. It is not November yet, but we are getting closer to that time of year. A large storm in the Great Lakes today had a central pressure as low as the storm that sunk the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. On November 10, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. An approaching low pressure system caused winds to increase and thus prompted wind related warnings. Strong winds faster than 50 mph produced large waves that day.  There were some wave heights near 30 feet reported

The daily map from that date looked like this. Notice the low pressure over Lake Superior with a central pressure of 984 mb.

November 10, 1975

Now jump ahead to today. The map looks very similar, even to the minimum pressure of 984 mb.

October 24, 2017

A buoy reported wave heights a little higher than 25 feet today in Lake Superior, just north of Munising, Michigan.

The chart below shows the wave heights reported in blue and the forecast wave heights in red. The storm strengthened Monday night and Tuesday and resulted in the rapid increase in wave heights.

Wave heights October 24, 2017

For more information on the Edmund Fitzgerald, visit the Marquette, Michigan’s NWS page here.


Posted under Weather History, Weather Links, Weather Trivia, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on October 24, 2017

Wind FAQ

Winds across the state increased behind a cold front that tracked through on Monday. But what is wind?

It is the flow of air as it moves from high pressure areas to low pressure areas.

In real life, air does not typically move directly from high to low pressure centers. It travels clockwise outward away from high pressure and moves counter-clockwise into low pressure.

The lines around the high and low pressure centers in the graphic above are called isobars (lines of equal pressure). The more isobars there are in an area – lets say, across the state of Iowa – then the stronger the winds become in that area.

1PM CDT Tuesday, October 24, 2017 National Observation

Quick bursts of higher wind speeds are called gusts.

The wind direction refers to the direction (north, south, east, west, etc) from which the wind originates.

There are different tools to measure wind:

  1. Wind vane: measures the direction of the wind
  2. Anemometer: measures the speed of the wind. Wind speeds are usually measured in knots or miles per hour.

Anemometer diagram (1880)



Posted under Weather Trivia, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on October 24, 2017

Sunshine Monday turns to rain Tuesday


October is known for warm days and cool nights as the days keep getting shorter and shorter. The leaves are changing from green to the beautiful mixture of reds, yellows and oranges. Hopefully no storms with a lot of wind move through the area and knock down the leaves prematurely.  Craig Wenthe sent me this photo of the changing leaves.


We had a wide range of temperatures across Iowa earlier this afternoon. It felt more like winter in northwest Iowa with temperatures in the 30s, a gusty wind, and some rain. At the same time, it was more like summer in southeast Iowa with temperatures in the low 80s.



Wind gusts today were roughly from 15-30 mph from the north. It remains breezy tonight with a north wind. The wind comes from the northeast direction Tuesday. Here are the highest wind gusts from Monday:

31 mph Waterloo
22 mph Dubuque
21 mph Cedar Rapids
17 mph Iowa City


Not too far to our north, cold weather settles in tonight and brings the growing season to an end. Frost Advisories and Freeze Warnings are in effect as temperatures drop into the 20s and low 30s. On average, eastern Iowa would have already had the first frost. The first frost is typically during the end of September and the beginning of October. So far is has not been that cold yet in most locations.



We are tracking a storm, located along the Oklahoma and Kansas state line this evening. It is forecast to track across Missouri and Illinois Tuesday. The result be clouds increasing tonight with a few light showers by sunrise Tuesday. Light showers in the morning become heavier in the afternoon and evening. Clouds, rain and a northeast wind combine to keep temperatures only in the 50s for afternoon highs. The rain will gradually taper off after midnight Tuesday night. Heavier rain amounts are expected to be across our southern counties.



The tropics have been active this year. The tropics are quiet right now. The only storm out there is way out in the Atlantic Ocean. It is Tropical Storm Ophelia. The forecast is to keep Ophelia in the open waters of the Atlantic.



National High and Low Temperature Monday, October 9, 2017
98 at Laredo, TX
1 at Bodie State Park Bridgeport, CA


Posted under Fall Colors, Sports, Temperatures, Tropics, Windy

This post was written by Schnack on October 9, 2017

Windy with Spotty Showers

We have a couple of “cool” days ahead before things warm up again. Highs today reach the mid-60s to low 70s from north to south. Breezy winds come from the west.

An area of low pressure tracks southeast over the area today and showers develop along the area as it moves through.

Similar to yesterday, today will be a mainly rain event.

A stray shower is possible overnight.

Isolated areas of fog are possible as lows fall to the mid to upper 40s with plenty of moisture in the air after the day’s rain. Mild conditions return tomorrow with mostly sunny skies and highs on either side of 70°.






Posted under Forecast Discussion, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 30, 2017

A Windy Tuesday

Here are the peak wind gusts from Tuesday. This is the last of the strong winds associated with the weekend storms.


Posted under Windy

This post was written by Schnack on May 2, 2017

Breezy and Brisk Tuesday

A breezy but milder evening is in store. As a low pressure system tracks away from us, we’ll see more sunshine this afternoon. No more 40s for highs in your Storm Track 7-Day Forecast. Highs for everyone today reach at least the mid-50s with upper 50s mainly south of highway 20. The breezy wind begins to back off tonight.

High pressure moves in just to our south tonight. With that, we’ll have a southerly wind flow. Southerly winds transport milder air for the mid-week (and the rest of the week, as well). Highs Wednesday will be in the low 60s. A stray sprinkle is possible later Wednesday as another system tracks through southern Missouri. Even if we don’t see any rain from that system – which is possible – we will still have breezy winds for Thursday and Friday.

Highs stay in the low to upper 60s from Thursday into next week. Expect dry conditions but most likely high pollen counts for the weekend.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 2, 2017

Drying Out This Week

Only one more dreary, damp day. Unfortunately, that’s the way we start the new month of May.

When you woke up this morning, the system that’s been bringing us rain and wind the past few days was sitting directly overhead. As the day moves on, it tracks away to the northeast – taking the rain with it.

We dry out by early Tuesday morning. Highs today: 45-53. Strong winds from the west today become breezy tonight. Lows tonight: 36-40.

Tuesday starts with a grey sky but skies clear through the day, leaving us with sunshine by the evening. Highs tomorrow will range from the mid-50s to low 60s. A warming trend continues into midweek.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Windy

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 1, 2017