On The Radio – Iowa experienced unusually warm and wet conditions in 2015


Storm clouds roll through Polk County south of near Elkhart in November 2015. (Carl Wycoff/Flickr)
Storm clouds roll through Polk County south of near Elkhart in November 2015. (Carl Wycoff/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | February 1, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at unusually high temperatures and precipitation levels that Iowa experienced at the end of 2015.

Transcript: Warm fall and winter

While global temperatures continued to set records, Iowa experienced an unusually warm and exceedingly wet winter in 2015.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that between August 31 and December 31, only 25 days recorded below average temperatures in Iowa. Temps during that period were 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, the warmest for that period since 1931.

Iowa also experienced by far its wettest December ever in both rain and snow, with a single storm system in mid-December shattering the records set by most winter months since record keeping started in 1873. Grundy Center’s 8.2 inches of precipitation dwarfed its previous December record of 3.7 inches set in 1982, while Des Moines’ 5.4 inches broke its previous record of 3.7 inches set in 1931. This continued a trend of unpredictability in weather patterns – which even included the first ever recorded tornado warnings in December. The heavy precipitation contributed to devastating flooding downstream from Missouri to Texas.

For more information about Iowa weather, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Severe weather and heavy rains pound eastern Iowa, rest of state


Nick Fetty | July 1, 2014
A wall cloud near Missouri Valley in western Iowa on June 29. Photo by Rich Carstensen; Flickr
A wall cloud near Missouri Valley in western Iowa on June 29.
Photo by Rich Carstensen; Flickr

Heavy precipitation and severe storms have caused flash floods, power outages, and other issues as approximately 2.5 inches of rain fell in Iowa City Monday afternoon.

The series of storms – known as a “derecho” – also produced gusts as high as 64 miles per hour which contributed to power loss for thousands in the Iowa City-Coralville area. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Iowa River in Iowa City stood at 22.39 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday that it would increase the Coralville Reservoir’s outflow from 7,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 10,000 cfs beginning Tuesday. Efforts have been made to protect various University of Iowa buildings, including the flood-prone Mayflower Residence Hall on North Dubuque Street.

The severe weather has also impacted other parts of the state such as near Fairfax, where a building collapse has caused one death. Search efforts are currently underway for a Cedar Rapids teenager who is missing after being swept into a storm sewer while several were injured during a Cedar Rapids Kernels game last night. Hail ravaged western parts of the state while heavy winds and possible tornadoes hit central Iowa.

Governor Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation for several central and eastern Iowa counties including Adair, Cedar, Guthrie, Jones, and Linn.

For more information about flooding across the state, check out the Iowa Flood Information System.

Iowa winter forecasts predict cold and snowy weather


Photo by iowa_spirit_walker, Flickr

Like the snow? Then you will be pleased by the latest winter predictions for Iowa. Current forecasts show that this winter could yield lower than average temperatures, and greater than average snowfall. If this occurs, it will be Iowa’s fifth straight winter of high-snowfall, and its fourth straight winter of below-average temperatures.

However, the Des Moines Register points out that these long-range forecasts are often incorrect:

Those who don’t like those odds might take comfort in the fact that the National Weather Service, which readily admits its long-term forecasts are statistically dicey, often misses the mark with the winter forecasts that are published each fall.

For example, the weather service predicted a significant chance of warmer than usual temperatures for each of the last five winters. The reality: All but one of those winters were much colder than the 30-year average. Forecasters generally gave us a 50-50 chance of more snow in those five years. That part proved correct. Snowfall amounts have generally been up since 2006.

When extremes become the norm: this year in Iowa weather


Thanks partially to climate change, 2010 was the year the earth struck back. Weather watchers all over the world observed a series of extremes: scorching summers, bone-chilling winters, intense flooding and whiteout blizzards.

Iowans observed many of those conditions firsthand. In today’s Cedar Rapids Gazette, State Climatologist Harry Hillaker’s top ten weather stories of the year. Check it out.

Here are some pictures I shot in Iowa City during and after a heavy snowfall in early January. That week, swirling winds made temperatures in the teens feel even colder.

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