February 2017 Warmth at Waterloo

February of 2017 was remarkably warm across Iowa, including at Waterloo where it was the 4th-warmest February on record (going back to 1895). Daily record maximum temperatures were established on the 17th (69°F), 19th (67°F) and 22nd (69°F). During the 28 days of February there were only 5 days with an average temperature below normal, while there were 15 days that were 10+ degrees above normal and 5 days that were 20+ above normal. Here is where the month stacked up in various Waterloo records:

Warmest Februarys on record
1. 35.2°F (1954)
2. 34.9°F (1931)
3. 34.4°F (1998)
4. 33.6°F (2017)
5. 33.0°F (1930)

Warmest February days on record
1. 71°F (2/15/1921)
2. 69°F (2/22/2017)
    69°F (2/17/2017)
4. 67°F (2/19/2017)
5. 66°F (2/17/1981)
    66°F (2/25/2000)

Most 60°F+ degree days in February
1. 7 (1930)
2. 5 (2017)
3. 4 (1981)
4. 3 (2000)
5. 2 (1921)



Blog post by Jim Lee, Meteorologist

On this Date in Iowa Weather History: 1959 Girl’s State Basketball Winter Storm

On March 14-16, 1959, a major winter storm struck Iowa as a potent low pressure center moved east northeast out of Kansas into central Illinois resulting in 6 deaths and 1 injury. Precipitation began in southern Iowa as rain on the morning of the 14th then started to switch to a heavy wet snow by afternoon. The heaviest snowfall occurred overnight on the 14th-15th, with 4 inches or more falling in a wide swath from southwest to northeast across the state and some areas within that band receiving 8 to 10 inches. The highest reported storm total snowfall accumulations included 12.5 inches at New Hampton, 12.0 inches at Cresco, and 10.0 inches at Clarion, Fayette, and Fort Dodge. Winds gusting to as high as 60 mph caused severe blowing and drifting of the snow, commonly producing drifts up to 10 feet deep. There were even reports in northeastern Iowa with drifts as deep as 15 feet! Across about the southern half of the state, the heavy snow remained very wet and froze to all surfaces. As a result, thousands of trees, utility poles and lines were snapped or heavily damaged. Even after the heavy snow ended on the 15th, frozen surfaces and high winds continued to make travel impossible across most of the state. In fact, Des Moines and Dubuque authorities prohibited any travel to or from their cities. Also in Des Moines, there were 5,000 basketball fans attending the girls state tournament that spent the night in the Veterans Memorial Stadium building.


NWS Des Moines Participates in the Girls in Science Festival

For the second year in a row, the NWS DMX has participated in the Girls in Science Festival held annually at the Science Center of Iowa. The goal of the festival is for girls of all ages to explore a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers and connect with female role models and mentors. It is one of several STEM events held throughout the year for girls to meet successful women scientists and be encouraged to pursue STEM careers.

This year Senior Meteorologist Mindy Beerends and 3 female ISU Meteorology students teamed together to staff the NWS booth at the event. Several different science experiments were available for the girls to learn about the weather and the role science plays in everyday weather phenomena. Girls were able to see how clouds hold water and then make rain when they become filled with too much water by using a glass filled with water, a shaving cream cloud, and then additional food-colored water was added. When the shaving cream cloud could no longer hold the additional water, the colored water rained down beneath the shaving cream cloud. Another experiment involved girls learning about how the rotation of the earth causes a curvature in the winds known as the Coriolis Effect. This force causes objects such as the wind to be deflected toward the right in the northern hemisphere, and toward the left in the southern hemisphere. Girls also learned about evaporative cooling effects and the wind chill by using hand sanitizer and a fan blown on their hands.

Several little budding scientists had fun with all the experiments and really enjoyed making the clouds and rain; a few artists were noted as well using the colored water! Meteorology as a career was also highlighted when Mindy gave a presentation in a breakout session discussing her journey to becoming a STEM professional. Her presentation discussed how she became interested in weather, how she chose where to go to school, and how she started her career in the NWS. Additionally the girls learned what a meteorologist in the NWS does, and what specialty STEM careers are available in the NWS such as a hurricane specialist flying through hurricanes to help with the forecast and tracking, or an incident meteorologist forecasting weather conditions for wild fires while being stationed at the firefighter camp of the wild fire. Hopefully many of the girls attending were able to continue their interests in science, and be inspired to pursue a STEM career.


Blog post by Mindy Beerends, Lead Forecaster