This is the first full day of spring and Iowans are looking back at an unremarkable winter that included a couple of remarkable snowstorms. State climatologist Harry Hillaker says overall, the just-concluded winter season in Iowa wasn’t much for records in categories like extreme cold or heavy snowfall.
“This past winter season averaged about three-degrees colder than usual and also a bit wetter than normal, as well,” Hillaker says. “It was the 34th coldest winter and the 51st wettest one among 138 years. Nothing super-unusual in either one of those. Actually, it’s the fifth-consecutive wetter-than-normal winter that we’ve had.” Still, there were a number of significant snowstorms that hit during December, with a whopper that plastered much of the state last month.
February 1st was the center of that big blizzard that particularly got east-central and southeast Iowa, the Quad Cities area, Burlington, Muscatine,” Hillaker says. “In that part of the state, if it wasn’t the worst storm they’ve ever seen, it was right up there among the biggest ones. Some areas got close to 20-inches of snow out of that event.” Just because we’re now in springtime doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the shovels and snowblowers. Hillaker says a new wintery blast is forming right now that has the potential to dump more white stuff on the Hawkeye State.
“There are Winter Storm Watches and Winter Storm Warnings to the north of us across the Dakotas and Minnesota,” Hillaker says. “Very soon, there could be some snow for far northern Iowa and we actually have a couple of chances for snowfall later on this week. Typically, we do still get snow in April, in fact, we’ve never had an April without any snow in the state of Iowa.”
Usually though, he says, April snows don’t amount to much and they often melt quickly. He says the La Nina weather pattern is beginning to weaken. In past years, Hillaker says that’s tended to bring cooler, wetter springs followed by cooler, drier summers.