Know your “nor’easter”

Over the past couple of weeks, three nor’easters have slammed the northeast United States. These storms knocked out power for days and left many stranded. It hasn’t helped that they have come one after another… after another.

This last storm dropped 24 inches – yes TWO FEET – of fresh snow in central Massachusetts.

Those high numbers continued north through Maine:

So what is a nor’easter? Here’s the quick rundown:

Like other storms, a nor’easter at its core is a low pressure system. Winds rotate counterclockwise around low pressure, which produce northeasterly winds ahead of the storm. Those northeasterly winds are where the name “nor’easter” stems from. These storms bring heavy snow, rain, thunderstorms, flooding and even the possibility of coastal erosion. Nor’easters can really back a punch during their lifespan.

There are actually two types of nor’easters. They are the Miller Type A and Miller Type B. They are named after researcher J.E. Miller who derived these classifications in 1946:

The “type A” storm is the pattern that the March 1993 storm followed. The low develops in the Gulf Coast and tracks along the East Coast. These may be considered “classic” nor’easters.

The “type B” storm could have impacts in Iowa. The storm originates in the Midwest and tracks east. Snow or wintry mix is possible in the upper Midwest depending on the track of the storm. Low pressure weakens as it moves closer to the Appalachian mountains. It redevelops on the east side of the mountains, closer to the coast. It then tracks close to the East Coast.

Regardless of the path it takes or the type it is, nor’easters have the potential to bring lasting effects to large numbers of people.


Posted under Winter Weather

This post was written by Rachael Peart on March 14, 2018

Snow Cover

A clear sky allows us to get a good look at where snow was on the ground.

Click to enlarge


Posted under Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 8, 2018

Seasonal Snowfall

Now that we are in the month of March, many of you probably have your sights set on spring (which officially begins March 20th at 11:15 AM).

While it may seem like it’s been a bad winter with snow, we are still sitting below our seasonal averages.


Posted under Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on March 8, 2018

Snow Scenes

Here is a look at some snow scenes from the storm Monday.


Posted under Photo, Winter Weather

This post was written by Schnack on March 6, 2018

Snow Reports


Here are some of the snow reports from the winter storm Monday-Tuesday, March 5-6, 2018:

Waterloo 2.6
Dubuque 3.0
Cedar Rapids 1.2
Iowa City Trace
Amana 4.7 mi W 0.5
Anamosa 3SSW 1.4
Bellevue LD 12 2.0
Calmar 3.6
Cedar Falls 2.1
Cedar Rapids 2 NNE 1.0
Cedar Rapids 2 WSW 1.0
Cedar Rapids 2.7 NE 1.0
Center Point 0.6 NNW 2.0
Central City 6.7 W 2.5
Charles City 3.8
Clayton Center 5.0
Coralville 1.4 S Trace
Cresco 4.0
Cuba City 2.8
Decorah 4.9 SE 4.9
Decorah 7.9 mi ENE 4.0
Dubuque #3 3.0
Dubuque 2 WNW 2.3
Edgewood 3.5
Eldora 1.3
Elgin 2 SE 2.0
Elkader 6 mi SSW 5.4
ELMA 4.4
Elon 3 WNW 5.3
Fairfax 1.5
Fayette 4.7
Fayette 2 NNW 5.0
Grundy Center 1.7
Guttenberg 2.5
Harpers Ferry 4.0
Independence 2.5
IONIA 2W 3.5
Iowa Falls 2.5
Jesup 2.0
Kesley 3.0
Lowden 1.0
Marengo 2.6 SSW 0.5
Monona 4.9
Monticello 1.3
Mt Auburn 1.5
New Hampton 0.3 mi NNW 4.0
Nora Springs 4.0
Osage 3.8
Parnell 0.1 SSW Trace
Quasqueton 0.4 WSW 3.2
Riceville 3 NE 5.0
Rockford 4 E 1.6
Sigourney Trace
Solon 0.3 mi ESE 0.7
St. Ansgar 5.0
Stanwood 0.8
Toledo 1.8
Traer 2.0
Tripoli 2.6
Waterloo 1.8 mi SSE 1.8
Waukon 6.0



Posted under Precipitation Totals, Winter Weather

This post was written by Eileen Loan on March 6, 2018

TRACKING: Rain, Snow and Wind Monday

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY  is in effect Monday into Tuesday morning for northeast Iowa.


Monday will be interesting.  All of eastern Iowa will have rain during the morning hours, so plan on a wet commute.  There may be a period of sleet and freezing rain mixing with the snow across northeast Iowa during the morning hours.

It will be windy with SE winds 15-30 mph, gusting 40+ mph at times.  Highest will be in the upper 30s north, to upper 40s south.

As we head into the afternoon hours, rain will begin to mix with, then transition into snow north of Highway 20.

Some of the snow could be heavy at times.  Snowfall amounts will be 3-6″, with locally higher amounts.

Near the Highway 20 corridor, 1-3″ of snow is possible Monday afternoon and evening.

Rain may mix with snow as far south as Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.  Any accumulation would be a trace to less than an inch.

We will have a dry period Monday evening, before the low pressure system tracks through eastern Iowa, and the backside brings wrap around snow showers after midnight, and into Tuesday.  An additional inch of snow is possible with that round.


Posted under Forecast Discussion, Winter Weather

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on March 4, 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

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

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