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KCRG Weather Blog

March was warmer than normal for many

March 2020 will go down as a warmer than normal for most of the United States. While the map suggests the month was pretty smooth, it was packed with ups and downs throughout. For us in Iowa, our weather was downright wild throughout the month. At the Eastern Iowa Airport, our warmest day occurred on March 8th with a high of 70. Our coldest low occurred one week later with a low of 22. There were several light snow events throughout the month as well along with several storm complexes. Rainfall was about a half-inch above normal. The first week of March was generally the quietest as little to no precipitation fell anywhere in eastern Iowa.

Spring’s hard freezes

We have a run of weather coming up that may have you excited that spring is here. You may have had frost Monday morning, though. Don’t be fooled by the nicer weather – we still have cold mornings in April! A hard freeze is when the temperature falls to 28 degrees or colder. The average date of the last hard freeze in Cedar Rapids is April 11 in Cedar Rapids. The earliest last hard freeze on record was March 21, 1895. The latest hard freeze of the season was May 25, 1925. Dubuque’s average last hard freeze is April 13. The earliest was February 27, 1878, while the latest was May 10, 1966. In Iowa City, the average date of the last hard freeze is April 8. The earliest was March 19, 2017. The latest was May 10, 1966. Finally, Waterloo’s average last hard freeze date is April 15. The earliest last hard freeze happened on March 24, 1998 and the latest was May 14, 1895.

4 confirmed tornadoes from severe storms on Saturday

The National Weather Service offices in the Quad Cities and La Crosse, Wisconsin surveyed damage from Saturday's storms and confirmed 4 tornadoes in the TV9 viewing area. The first tornado happened in Fayette County, near Oelwein and was rated an EF-1, with estimated wind speeds of around 107 mph. Meteorologists that surveyed the damage said that the tornado was rain-wrapped when it formed near the Fayette County line, south of Oelwein. The tornado moved northeast to the west side of the city and cause damage to an apartment complex and trees. The tornado traveled 4 miles at around 6:30 p.m. The second one was also located in Fayette County, near Maynard. This one was rated an EF-0, with estimated wind speeds around 83 mph and traveled 3.5 miles. This tornado formed from the same storm that produced the tornado in Oelwein at around 6:40 p.m. It caused damage to several farms in the area. The next tornado formed in Dubuque County at around 8:25 p.m. This one was rated an EF-1, with estimated wind speeds around 110 mph and traveled for 4.2 miles. The tornado formed southeast of Sherrill and moved northeast causing significant damage to outbuildings and uprooted several trees. They are still surveying damage in Buchanan County and have confirmed a tornado, but have not set a rating at this time or given any other information. There were also tornadoes reported in Black Hawk, but so far no information has been released. A tornado also formed in a fringe county of the TV9 viewing area at around 8:35 p.m. The National Weather Service has preliminary rated it an EF-1 tornado. This one happened in Grant County, Wisconsin. The tornado formed around 1 mile north of Potosi and traveled to 2 miles northwest of Ellenboro. There was damage to a house and multiple farm outbuildings.


Severe Weather Awareness Week: Flash flooding

Flash flooding most commonly happens when very heavy rain falls in a short time. The ground can’t soak it up fast enough, and it runs off into streets and may flood them. Or, the water fills ditches and streams and causes them to overflow. This all happens quickly, and sometimes the worst of it comes after the storm itself has moved on and rain has ended. Water has a lot of force behind it – think about the weight of a couple of buckets of water, then consider how many buckets’ worth of water is moving through floodwater. It’s a lot, but many people underestimate that power. Flash flooding is the deadliest thunderstorm-related threat. Most deaths happen when people drive into flood water and get carried off. Just two feet of moving water can move a vehicle, and once it’s floating, it fills and flips easily. If you come across a road with water across it, turn around, don’t drown. Find another route! Even if you can see the road itself, you don’t necessarily know if the ground under the road is stable. We’ve experienced many culvert washouts from flash flooding in the past. As interesting as flash flooding may be to look at, you should not go near it. As little as six inches of moving water can knock a person off his or her feet. Flash flooding can be difficult to predict much in advance. Meteorologists usually know the general area where it will be possible, but it usually comes from a narrow band of thunderstorms moving over the same area over and over. The heavy rain may be fall in a swath as small as five or ten miles wide!

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Family preparedness

It’s easy to think that destructive storms only happen to other people. But to somebody else, you are that other person. Do what you can to be ready and safe! There are three different times to think about when it comes to being ready and prepared for severe weather. During a warning, you need to be taking action and sheltering in your safe place. Warnings are “storm-based,” being issued for a small area for less than an hour. Most of the time, before a warning, there is a watch. A watch covers portions of states and last several hours. A watch means that severe storms are possible but may not be happening yet. So, you can keep going with your plans but you need to keep watching the weather in case it turns severe and you need to take shelter. Before that, though, when there’s no bad weather at all, is the most important time for getting ready. One of the most important things about being prepared is knowing where you live. No, not knowing your address – but knowing where you live on a map. What county are you in? What part in the county? Where do you live in relation to other things, such as north of Interstate 80? Schools and workplaces occasionally have drills to practice being safe from different dangers. For example, students and workers go through their evacuation routine during a fire drill so they remember where the nearest exit is. If a fire were to actually happen, that’s not a very good time to start thinking about what to do – it should be automatic and immediate by that time. Likewise, you should not wait until a storm is battering your house to start figuring out your safety plan. Emergency Kit You should make a basic emergency kit. You should have these things in your storm kit: - Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days) - Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food) - Manual can opener for food - Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio - Flashlight - First aid kit - Extra batteries - Whistle to signal for help - Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation - Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities - Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery - Shoes (so you don’t cut your feet if you have to walk across debris) Those are the basics, and you may have other things you need to add. Consider these items: - Medicine, including prescription and over-the-counter - Glasses and contact lens solution - Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream - Pet food and extra water - Cash - Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container - Complete change of clothing - Fire extinguisher - Matches in a waterproof container - Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items - Paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils - Books, games, toys, etc. for kids If this seems like a lot, a checklist can help. You can download one here. Safe Shelter If you’re at home, these are places to go or things to consider for your sheltering: - The basement or lowest floor of your home. - Away from windows. - In an interior room – that is, a room that doesn’t have any walls to the outside. These are usually a bathroom or closet. - Underneath something sturdy such as stairs, a table, a workbench, etc. - Cover up with pillows or blankets. - Protect your head, even if you’re just putting your arms over it. If you have a helmet (such as a bike helmet), wear that. If you’re not at home, these are your main sheltering choices: - The designated storm shelter. Sometimes these are marked with a green sign that says “STORM SHELTER” or something similar. If there isn’t a designated shelter, go to the restrooms. - If driving, go to a sturdy building and shelter there. If there are no buildings, a ditch is often the best option because most objects will tumble over a small low spot. Do not shelter under a bridge or overpass! Debris can easily get thrown into them and you will have no protection.