Monday, January 31, 2011

Big Winter Storm...Tuesday-Wednesday

Check out the watch and warning map from the National Weather Service. That big swath of red counties in the center of the country is a blizzard warning. It includes the Des Moines metro.
The blizzard warning starts at Noon Tuesday and continues until Noon Wednesday. Polk County is right on the edge of the blizzard warning...Dallas County has a Winter Storm Warning for the same period of time.
By Wednesday morning...we are going to see about 5 to 7 inches of snow over the Des Moines area. The north-northeast wind will come in with 40 mph gusts. Obviously the visibility for driving will be an issue...and the 6 inches of snow over Des Moines will look more like a foot with the snow blowing sideways. Travel could be impossible by late Tuesday night.
Up to 18 inches of snow is possible in southeast Iowa. This storm will impact much of the Midwest....including large metro areas like Chicago...St. Louis.... Detroit.
I'll be updating the journal often through the next couple days... keep watching and make sure you download our mobile apps at . You will be covered as the storm moves into Iowa.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger...25 Years Ago Today

The Challenger disaster happened 25 years ago today. The space shuttle exploded about 10 miles off the launch pad...killing all seven passengers.

Christa McAuiliffe...the first school teacher to travel on the shuttle..was on board. She is pictured second from the left in the second row of the crew picture.

I was doing weekend weather and reporting during the week at KIMT TV 3 in Mason City. On that day I was in an elementary classroom in Mason City...watching the launch with a group of 3rd graders.

You can only imagine the horror as Challenger blew up on the screen in front of us. It was a moment that will never leave my mind.

Take a minute to reflect on that day....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Foggy Friday Morning....Spring Flood Outlook

We are going to be in the throws of some dense fog by morning.

The melting through Thursday has added enough moisture to the lower levels to create foggy conditions over central Iowa. The fog is expected to move in after 2 AM. It should lift with the warmer temperatures and some sunshine by mid Friday morning.

Highs Friday are expected to be in the middle to upper 30s again. Enjoy the melt before we head into the freeze of next week. Much colder air is on the way by Monday.

Flood Outlook

The National Weather Service released their first flood outlook of the year today. It basically shows higher chances for flooding along the Mississippi in eastern Iowa...and in the Sioux-land area of western Iowa.

Here are the highlights:
* Current information suggests that the greatest risk of significant flooding is along the Mississippi, Big Sioux and Floyd Rivers. Along the Mississippi River, there is greater than 50% chance of major flooding from the Minnesota border all the way down to Burlington. At many locations along the Mississippi, the risk exceeds 70%. Similar risk levels exist along the Big Sioux and Floyd Rivers.

* Of less concern but still worthy of mention, the risk of flooding is near to above normal at most other locations in Iowa, especially for north central, northeast and east central Iowa including but not limited to portions of the Cedar, Iowa, Winnebago, Wapsipinicon and Upper Iowa Rivers.

* Also worthy of mention, the rivers across the remainder of the state, including the Des Moines and Skunk River basins, the risk is near to above normal. Keep in mind the aforementioned above normal risk of significant flooding along the Big Sioux and Floyd Rivers however.

** Important note #1: the risk of flooding may change significantly between now and the spring thaw. We obviously have a lot of winter to go yet. Iowa tends to receive a lot its winter snowfall between now and the end of the season. Things can change a lot either for the better or worse. Recall last year we were all quite concerned about significant flooding along the Des Moines River basin due to the indicated high risk of significant flooding. Ideal snow melt conditions led to a relatively minimal flood however.

** Important note #2: stream levels across much of Iowa are above to much above normal for this time of year. They have been persistently high since last fall. Soil moisture is also near to above normal statewide. An extreme example of the elevated stream levels is the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa, where some locations are reporting the highest river levels they have ever seen for this time of year.
This all means that we will be more vulnerable than normal to flooding and flash flooding, regardless of if the snow melt flooding occurs, at least into late spring.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Historic Tornado Outbreak...1967

Going to go back in time with this weather history lesson...courtesy of the Des Moines National Weather Service...

1967: An unprecedented January tornado outbreak struck eastern and southeastern Iowa and portions of Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. There were at least 13 tornadoes in Iowa with many of these producing significant F2 or F3 damage. Two tornadoes struck Lee County resulting in 10 injuries, and one of those tornadoes produced F3 damage and killed a young child just west of Fort Madison. Another tornado produced F4 damage just across the border in northeastern Missouri before entering Davis County. A cold front moved through the state later that night and on the 26th snow fell across about the southern half of Iowa with snowfall amounts ranging up to 13.5 inches at Burlington, less than two days after tornadoes had touched down in the same area. To put the extremely unusual nature of this outbreak into perspective, this is the only date in January on which a tornado has ever been recorded in Iowa and only one has ever been recorded in February.

Friday, January 21, 2011

You Thought We Were Cold....

Ice fog was hanging over International Falls, Minnesota this morning. That stuff kicks in when the air temperature falls below -22 degrees Fahrenheit. This morning it was -46 in International falls and Babbitt, MN.
How about temperatures so cold that engine oil freezes? We think it's tough when our extreme cold makes car batteries grumpy.
We did see lows of -22 in the Mason City area this morning.
Here are more fun facts about the freaky cold in Minnesota....

•The lowest temperatures recorded in the NWS Duluth county warning area were -46 degrees at both International Falls, MN (ASOS) and Babbitt, MN (CO-OP).
•The -46 degree low was tied for the 5th lowest on record at International Falls. Temperature records date back to 1897. The record is -55 degrees which was recorded on January 6, 1909.
•The -46 degree low was tied for the lowest on record at the International Falls Airport. The official observing station was moved to the airport in 1939. This is tied with the -46 degree reading from January 6, 1968.
•The -25 degree low at Duluth is tied for the 5th lowest minimum temperature in the last decade (since 2000). The lowest minimum temperature of the 2000s thus far has been -30 on January 29, 2004.
•The state record low temperature in Minnesota was recorded at Tower, Minnesota on February 2, 1996. The low was -60 degrees. That was also the coldest temperature ever recorded east of the Mississippi River.
•The state record low temperature in Wisconsin was recorded at Couderay on February 2nd and February 4th of 1996. The temperatures dipped down to -55 degrees both nights.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Burst of Snow...Short-lived...But Slick

A weak wave of energy has moved more snow into central Iowa tonight. The line of snow will quickly move through the state....but it is slick on many roads.

The moisture was so low that there was little threat of measurable snow...but there is enough to cover or partially cover much of the metro.

It will remain very cold tonight...take extra time for travel.

More snow is on the way tomorrow night into Thursday....about an inch to 2 inches of snow is expected over the southern 1/2 of Iowa. Little if any snow is expected north of Highway 30.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Freeze Tonight

Fewer counties are included in the winter weather advisory this afternoon. The National Weather Service has dropped much of southern Iowa from the advisory.
Rain is falling over much of the Des Moines metro and south of Interstate 80. Heavier rainfall at 2:45 this afternoon included some thundershowers from Montezuma to Oskaloosa...Knoxville...and Osceola.
The temperatures have topped out in the lower and middle 30s...and are going to start falling below zero this evening. There could be an instant freeze effect over much of the state.
Continue to watch for very slick roads, driveways and sidewalks. The ice will be hard to see.

Messy MLK Day

Light snow this morning is going to have a topping of ice by this afternoon. More light freezing rain is on the way from western Iowa.
This should only last for a few hours...but up to .10" of ice is possible.
Warmer temperatures around freezing will make for the perfect condition for ice accumulation.
A gusty wind later this afternoon could reduce visibilities...and start to whip ice-covered power lines in rural areas.
Much colder temperatures are on the way. Highs tomorrow will hit at midnight. Expect falling temperatures throughout the day. Lows will be below zero by tomorrow night.
More snow is on the way Wednesday.
Be safe.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow is still falling over most of the state...and it will continue to fall over the eastern 2/3 of Iowa through tomorrow morning.
As of 7:30....3.5 inches of snow was reported near the Des Moines International Airport...and 3.5 inches of snow was also reported in West Des Moines.
In western Iowa the snow has been falling since Sunday Harlan I had a report of 9.75" of snow.
The roads are completely covered over most of the state. This long-lived storm will keep plow trucks busy through the day tomorrow.
We are expecting about 5 inches of snow in Des Moines... there will be areas with over 7 inches of snow in central Iowa.
Be ready for the wind tomorrow. This light...very fluffy snow... will be blown around and will reduce visibilities.
Much colder air moves in for the mid-week. Highs on Wednesday are expected to be around 10.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tricky Travel Tonight

We are not expecting much more snow tonight...but the blowing snow has and will continue to reduce visibilities.
The northwest wind will gust over 30 mph through the evening. Roads are very slick in northern Iowa.
The road conditions map was from this evening around 6 PM. It is updated often. You can see the latest reports at:
There is a winter weather advisory in effect for northern Iowa until 9 tonight...and a blizzard warning for the area around Mason City until 9.
It will remain very cold over the weekend... but the wind will die down tomorrow morning.
More snow is on the way early next week...Monday through Tuesday.