Weatherwise, 2004 will be remembered for its tornadoes. There were one-hundred-20 tornadoes in Iowa this year, a record. During the months of May and June, there were several, large outbreaks of tornaodes. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says fortunately only one — the May 21st tornado that hit the northern Iowa town of Bradgate — caused injuries. “There were a few others that caused some major damage here and there,” Hillaker says. “Most of the ones that we did have of the 120 were very small and very short-lived.” In terms of general weather statistics, 2004 was a little bit wetter and a little bit warmer than normal. Temperatures in Iowa this year averaged about eight-tenths of a degree above normal. “Not much above normal, (but) it will be warmer than last year,” Hillaker says. Iowa got an inch-and-a-half more precipitation than normal. “So not significantly wet, but wetter than it’s been the last several years.” There were two episodes of flooding this past year, though. There were wide-spread, heavy rains in late May over the northern two-thirds of the state. A second round of flooding in mid-September hit northern Iowa. Hillaker says some areas got as much as seven to ten inches of rain overnight. Finally, when it comes to snow, Hillaker says there were some unique storms in late January and early February. “We had three major snow storms come across the state in just a 12 day period and particularly hit western parts of the state real hard,” Hillaker says. Onawa had 28 inches of snow on the ground at one point during that period.
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