State Climatologist Harry Hillaker has reviewed the preliminary data for 2008 and concludes it likely will be the fourth wettest year on record and among the coolest years since state weather records have been kept. “A rather unusual year as far as Iowa weather is concerned,” Hillaker says. “Seems like Iowa’s weather is always rather newsworthy, but this year more so than most years.”
From January through June, Iowa was on a record pace for precipitation. “Things settled down a little bit towards normal the second half of the year, but certainly had a very, very extremely wet start to the year,” Hillaker says, “especially in eastern Iowa.”
It’s been an “unusually cold” year, according to Hillaker. “The one thing we know for sure is it’ll be our coolest year since 1996, with almost every month being below normal — the exceptions being September, October, November which were each a tiny bit above normal, but not by much. The other nine months of the year (were) all below normal on temperatures and might possibly wind up being in the top 10…coldest year on record,” Hillaker says. “But that’s still a bit up in the air.” Hillaker is waiting for more temperature reports from around the state and for December to be over before making a final declaration.
Snowfall amounts for calendar year 2008 have been significant, too. “Most everyone will remember we had a lot of snow last winter and certainly we’ve had a lot of snow here in the beginning of the new winter of 2008/2009 and so that combination of a lot of snow, especially back in February and now again in December, will also be in the top ten in terms of snowiest calendar years,” Hillaker says. “Don’t have an exact ranking on that, but probably somewhere in the ballpark of…the fourth snowiest year on record.”
Based on data for the first 11 months of the year, there were only three other years in which Iowa had more precipitation — 1993, 1881 and 1902.