Iowa temps reach record highs


This map, from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, shows the departure from the previous record temperature.

Iowans experienced an unprecidented level of warmth across the state yesterday, with many areas breaking previous record high temperatures by more than 10 degrees.

According to Kevin Deitsh, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Des Moines, the cause of the warmth is linked to what meteorologists call “Downslope Warming,” where air masses are warmed as they descend from the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

“Enjoy it – that’s my advice,” said Deitsch. “Get out while you can.”

Though January is typically Iowa’s coldest month, the National Weather Service predicts this unusual warm weather will continue for the next few days.

For more information, check out the full article here.

3 thoughts on “Iowa temps reach record highs

  1. The title of the map could be more informative. “departure from” does not tell the reader the direction of the departure; is it warmer than the record high or lower than the record high? The reader must guess this; they should not have to do so. A better way would be to write:
    “Record high for given location minus observed high temperature on January 5, 2012.”
    the title could be extended with “Negative values indicate record new high temperatures were observed on January 5, 2012.”

    “The downslope warming” note would make far more sense if the definition were changed to:
    “Downslope Warming,” is where air masses lose their heat as they ascend the Rockies on the western Pacific Ocean at a lower rate per thousand feet than they gain per thousand feet as they descend from the front range of the Rocky Mountains.” The astute reader will say to herself: “don’t air masses from the west always descend as they come off the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, so why record highs now?” The answer, of course, is that at this time the Western Rockies are experiencing high rates of precipitation where the rate of decline of temperature with increases in elevation is less than when there is less precipitation.

    Professor, Department of Geography, University of Iowa.

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