2015 will rank among the wettest year in the 143 years that Iowa weather records have been kept. There are still a few hours left in the year and State Climatologist Harry Hillaker is close to having all the calculations done.
“Probably the seventh wettest year, with precipitation averaging about eight inches greater than what’s usual,” Hillaker says. “Normal’s about 35 inches and we’ve had a little over 43.25 inches of precipitation averaged over the state.”
There may be “one or two locations” in northeast Iowa that end up recording ever-so-slightly below-normal precipitation for the year.
“On the other extreme, it looks like Bedford in Taylor County, southwest Iowa, looks to have had over 63 inches of precipitation this year, which would easily be a record for that location,” Hillaker says. “It’s not a statewide record, but extremely wet year in that part of southwest Iowa.”
There were several locations in southwest, western and south central Iowa where precipitation for the year was above 50 inches. March was the seventh driest March on record in Iowa, but May, June, July, August and September all were above normal.
“Then November and December, at the end of the year, way above normal,” Hillaker says. “Just generally speaking, a rather wet year.”
The summer was “relatively cool” but 2015 will wind up as slightly warmer than normal year.
“A very warm end to the year,” Hillaker says. “September, October, November, December — all of the last four years — were all none of them quite records although December was kind of on a near-record pace for much of the month, but here in the last week or so December’s been much more seasonal and it’s pulling down that monthly average.”
Tornado season lasted a bit longer than normal. A handful of tornadoes struck Iowa on October 23, but didn’t do much damage. Hillaker says there’s still not a final tally for the number of actual tornadoes that struck Iowa on November 11.
“There were probably at least 15 tornadoes on Veterans Day,” Hillaker says, “and some of those were rather strong ones, especially across southern parts of the state.”
The number of tornadoes reported during 2015 will be close to the yearly average, according to Hillaker, somewhere between 50 and 55 twisters.