NWS Des Moines Provides Decision Support Services to Jasper County EMA at the Iowa Speedway

National Weather Service Des Moines provided on-site decision support services in Mid-May to Jasper County Emergency Management at a command post located at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. During the two day event, nearly 15,000 people were in attendance at the speedway for NASCAR Xfinity Series races and a large concert.

NWS Des Moines Meteorologists Mindy Beerends, Ken Podrazik, Brad Small, Allan Curtis, Senior Hydrologist Jeff Zogg and Warning Coordination Meteorologist Kelsey Angle provided on-demand and scheduled briefings to the Incident Commander on potential impacts and timing of associated weather hazards which included thunderstorms and strong winds to the large exposed crowd.

Weather briefings to the command post were held prior to the start of each event with emergency personnel reviewing and briefing safety evacuation plans and procedures to the command staff. Providing on-site decision support services to emergency management in the interest of public safety is a component of National Weather Service’s Weather-Ready Nation Strategic Plan

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NWS Meteorologist Ken Podrazik monitoring changing weather conditions and providing briefings to the Incident Commander seated to the right.

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Showers and thunderstorms approaching the Iowa Speedway and exposed crowd.

Coop Awards

The National Weather Service has an expansive network of volunteers throughout the United States that provide timely and accurate vital weather information to their local NWS Weather Forecast Office. Throughout the Nation, there are roughly 10,000 volunteers from various locations such as farms, urban and suburban areas, National Parks, Conservation Areas, water treatment plants, local radio and TV stations, just to name a few. The COOP program was initially formed under the 1890 Organic Act in which a system was set up for volunteers to be recruited and trained in weather observations. The mission of these valuable volunteers consists of two parts:

  • To provide observational meteorological data, usually consisting of daily maximum and minimum temperatures, snowfall, and 24-hour precipitation totals, required to define the climate of the United States and to help measure long-term climate changes.
  • To provide observational meteorological data in near real-time to support forecast, warning, and other public service programs of the NWS.

The data is invaluable to an extensive climate database across the United States. Although the majority of the NWS observers take daily measurements of maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall, there are other observers that provide soil temperatures, frost depth, river levels, and greenness or grassland curing data (for fire weather purposes). All this data that is collected from our volunteer observers helps several industries such as litigation, water resources, insurance, engineering and architectural, medical, manufacturing, communications, public utilities, transportation, agriculture, natural disasters/hazardous material mitigation, housing and real estate. We at the National Weather Service are extremely grateful and fortunate to have some amazing folks volunteer their time to provide such crucial data everyday. Length of Service Awards are given every 5 years to individuals or institution that have dedicated their time to help complete the NWS Mission. So far this spring 2015, the NWS Des Moines have presented four Cooperative Observer Length of Service Awards.

Janet Lindstrom of Rockwell City receives her 20 year Length of Service award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Ross Rekemeyer of Albia receives his 30 year Length of Service award presented by Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA. Ross Rekemeyer of Albia receives his 30 year Length of Service award presented by Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Brad Mueller of Greenfield, IA (pictured) recently received his 10 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA Brad Mueller of Greenfield, IA (pictured) recently received his 10 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Robert “Lightning” Petersen (pictured) recently received his 30 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA Robert “Lightning” Petersen (pictured) recently received his 30 year Length of Service Award. Presenting the award was Brad Fillbach, HMT, WFO Des Moines, IA.

Blog post by Kenny Podrazik – NWS Des Moines

May 27-29, 1947 Snowstorm

One of the most unusual weather events in Iowa history occurred as an intense low pressure system moved northeast across Missouri and into the Great Lakes region, passing over the far southeastern corner of Iowa. Meanwhile an unseasonably cold area of high pressure spread down the northern plains bringing record breaking cold temperatures to much of the region. A heavy snow storm tracked along the northwestern side of the low across eastern Wyoming and Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and into northern Michigan from May 27-29 producing unprecedented snowfalls for so late in the spring. In Iowa the storm struck on the 28th with most precipitation in the south coming in the form of thunderstorms and rain, sometimes mixed with sleet and snow, while across about the northern half of the state the precipitation fell almost entirely as snow. In Iowa, measurable snow was recorded at most locations north of a line from Council Bluffs to Dubuque with reported accumulations including an incredible 10.0 inches at Le Mars, 8.0 inches at Cherokee, 7.5 inches at Waukon, 6.0 inches at Alton and Hawarden, 5.0 inches at Cushing, Iowa Falls, Milford, and Northwood, 4.5 inches at Mason City, 2.0 inches at Waterloo, and a trace at many locations including Des Moines. In Nebraska several locations received 10 to 12 inches of snow and in Wisconsin 8 to 10 inches fell in a narrow band from Gays Mills to Green Bay. To put into perspective how unusual this event was, no snow has ever been recorded anywhere in Iowa at a later date in the spring. The total of 10.0 inches at Le Mars was the highest snow accumulation on record in Iowa at any time in the month of May until it was bested by the storm of May 1-3, 2013. A series of heavy rains in the following several weeks combined with the snow-melt from this storm to produce historic flooding across many parts of Iowa in June of 1947.

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Des Moines & Waterloo Memorial Day Climate Statistics

Below are the Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa, normals and records for Memorial Day. A couple of things to note, prior to 1971, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. From 1971 to present, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday of May. So to discern the records for each station, we had to determine what date Memorial Day was observed from 1971 to 2014 and took the highest and lowest temperatures and highest precipitation from that period and compared those numbers to the climate statistics on May 30 prior to 1971 in order to compile the Memorial Day records and daily averages.

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Blog post by Kenny Podrazik – NWS Des Moines

Just Another ‘Near Normal’ April 2015

Temperatures

The statewide average temperature for the month of April 2015 was 50.8°F which was 1.9°F above normal (See Figures 1 and 2). April 2015 now ranks as 38th warmest out of 143 years of records. Well above normal temperatures affected the state on the 1st of the month, placing high temperatures across the western two-thirds of Iowa into the 80s (See Figure 3). Temperatures throughout the rest of the month were up-and-down resulting in near normal temperatures (See Figures 4 & 5). Hence, the very warm first of the month added at least an additional 0.5°F onto the monthly average for April (See Figure 6). A brief cold snap occurred on the 3rd and 4th with another extended cold snap lasting from the 20th to the 27th. In between these two cold snaps were a couple of weeks of near to slightly above normal temperatures for central Iowa. During the second cold snap, several locations received a hard freeze on the 22nd and 23rd when low temperatures dropped into the 20s. The warmest temperature in April for the state was 88°F in Little Sioux on the 1st and then 3 days later on the 4th, the coldest temperature in Iowa of 19°F occurred in Elkader and Belle Plaine, Iowa. The most significant temperature gradient across the state set up on April 9th, when highs rose into the middle 80s over southeast Iowa and the northwest portion of the state remained in the lower 40s (See Figures 7 & 8).

Figure 1: Average temperature for the month of April 2015 across Iowa. Figure 1: Iowa average temperature for April 2015.

Figure 2: Average temperature departure from mean for the month of April 2015 across Iowa. Figure 2: Iowa average temperature departure from mean for April 2015.

Figure 3: Average temperature departure from mean for April 1, 2015. Figure 3: April 1, 2015 average temperature departure from normal.

Figure 4: Temperature trend graph for Des Moines during April 2015 shows the wide range of temperatures throughout the month.

Figure 4: Temperature trend graph for Des Moines during April 2015 shows the wide range of temperatures throughout the month.

Figure 5: Temperature trend graph for Waterloo during April 2015 shows the wide range of temperatures throughout the month.

Figure 5: Temperature trend graph for Waterloo during April 2015 shows the wide range of temperatures throughout the month.

Figure 6: Average temperature departure from mean from April 2 to 30, 2015. Compared to Figure 1, April 1st resulted in a significant increase in the monthly average temperature. Figure 6: Average temperature departure from mean from April 2 to 30, 2015. Compared to Figure 1, April 1st resulted in a significant increase in the monthly average temperature.

Figure 7: Average maximum temperature on April 9, 2015 ranged in the lower to middle 80s in southeast Iowa to the lower 40s over the northwest. Figure 7: Average maximum temperature on April 9, 2015 ranged in the lower to middle 80s in southeast Iowa to the lower 40s over the northwest.

Figure 8: Average maximum temperature departure from mean on April 9, 2015 showed the sharp gradient in temperatures across Iowa. Figure 8: Average maximum temperature departure from mean on April 9, 2015 showed the sharp gradient in temperatures across Iowa.

Precipitation

The statewide average precipitation totaled 3.39 inches which was 0.12 inches above normal (See Figures 9 & 10). This resulted in the 49th wettest April among 143 years of statewide climatological records. The highest monthly total at any location was 6.88 inches in Lake Mills, Iowa while the lowest monthly total was 1.18 inches at Rock Valley. The most active periods for precipitation were from the 7th and 9th, from the 18th to 20th, and 24th to 25th. There were a few severe weather events throughout the month, with the most significant event occurring on the 9th when two tornadoes touched down in east-central Iowa. In fact, the 9th had a multitude of different weather; from fog in the morning to severe weather in the southeast to snow over the northwest portions of the state (See Figure 11). In Schleswig, Iowa, 4 inches of snow was reported as a band of 1 to 4 inches set up of west-central to northwest Iowa (See Figure 12). Additional severe weather events materialized on the 7th, 8th, and 18th of the month over portions of southern Iowa.

The statewide average snowfall was just 0.3 inches for the month while the normal for April is 1.6 inches. The seasonal snowfall total now sits at 26.6 inches which is 5.6 inches below the average. April 2015 ranks as the 47th lowest seasonal snowfall total among 128 years of snowfall records for the state. In fact, there have been only 4 years (since snowfall records began at Des Moines in 1884) when Des Moines recorded no measurable snow (greater than a trace) during the entire months of March and April. The 4 years include 1889, 1908, 1981, and 2015. Des Moines last trace of snow in 2015 occurred on March 5.

Figure 9: Accumulated precipitation for the month of April 2015. Figure 9: Accumulated precipitation for the month of April 2015.

Figure 10: Accumulated precipitation departure from normal during April 2015.

IowaSpringWeatherApril 9-2015Figure 11: This graphic shows the various weather across Iowa on April 9, 2015.

Figure 12: Visible satellite imagery showing the 1 to 4 inch snow band that fell over west-central to north-central Iowa on April 9, 2015.Figure 12: Visible satellite imagery showing the 1 to 4 inch snow band that fell over west-central to north-central Iowa on April 9, 2015.

Visible Satellite image on April 9, 2015 depicts the ling of strong to severe thunderstorms developing over southeast Iowa and northern Missouri.

Visible Satellite image on April 9, 2015 depicts the ling of strong to severe thunderstorms developing over southeast Iowa and northern Missouri.

The statewide statistics and a few other statistics were courtesy of Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker and you can find a more extensive statewide summary here: http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/climatology/weatherSummaries/2015/pms201504.pdf

Blog post by Kenny Podrazik – NWS Des Moines