Earliest Fall Freeze in Iowa – September 1883

On September 8-9, 1883, an unusually cool weather pattern resulted in damaging frost across northern Iowa on September 8.  The very next morning on the 9th, the earliest general fall freeze on record occurred in Iowa and frost was observed nearly statewide. This included frost at Des Moines, even though the low temperature on the 8th was 38 F (Left Image Below). Back then, some sensors may have been placed on top of buildings, resulting in a 1-2 F difference than areas with grass.  But, even in southeastern Iowa at Muscatine, the observer noted that it was ‘quite a severe frost’ with crop damage and a low temperature of 32 F. Likewise at Keosauqua the frost reportedly killed all corn on the bottom lands and the observer lamented that ‘there will be a great deal of soft here this winter.’ Across northern Iowa a hard freeze occurred in some areas, with serious crop damage observed at Concord in Hancock County and a low of 24 F reported at Wolfdale in Woodbury County, where the observer wrote that ‘there will be thousands of bushels of soft corn in this part of Iowa.’ Typically the normal date of the first frost is late September into the first week of October (Right Image Below).