BRACE FOR IMPACT: September Snow?

478611_563025503728710_1307782199_oOver the past week, many of us have been enduring the brutal heat with the hope that cooler temperatures are on the way. As I am currently sitting here writing this article in my 70 degree cooled room, it is 104 outside with a heat index of 106. I have been watching the temps climb everyday wondering how warm it will actually get, and is there going to be a cool down anytime soon? Looking at the forecast models, I can tell you that it looks the the heat will finally break on Sunday as a cold front will push through the state late Saturday night into the morning hours on Sunday. There does look like there will be some rain that will fall as the cold front moves through, but definitely not enough to help the drought conditions.

Today I have been looking over the historical data finding fun facts to post to our Facebook page about this heat, and I found out that we have broken a few records today. Today’s record high temperature for the city of Des Moines was 99 which was shattered this afternoon. Today was also the latest that we have ever seen temperatures this warm this late in the season. Another fact that I didn’t think about at first was how many consecutive days of 95 degrees or greater we have had. After a few days of being so hot, you lose track on how many days it has been. The record for consecutive days of 95 degrees or greater was in 1927 when we went 9 consecutive days. Today makes this the 7th consecutive day which ties with 1913. Tomorrow we will be above 95 degrees which will make it 8 consecutive days, however, Sunday will break this trend so I don’t see us breaking this record for the most consecutive days.

Now to answer many of your questions, what’s up with the title of this article? September snow? While looking over historical data, I found an interesting read on the national weather services website. “It should be pointed out that in many (but not all) cases, extreme heat in late August and early September has been followed by early freezes and even snow later in September, as described below. This is certainly not an assurance that an early freeze will occur next month, but given the history of similar events, it is a possibility.”  After reading that, that got my attention to look into these events to see what may be coming up in the next month. One that caught my attention was this. “In 1881, a heat wave at the end of August sent the temperature up to 100 degrees at Des Moines on the 26th and 97 and 99 degrees on the 27th and 28th. Less than three weeks later, on September 16, the earliest fall snow on record dropped several inches across parts of western Iowa with many tree branches broken by the weight of the snow and an estimated 4-6 inches reported between Stuart and Avoca.” Now this late heat wave doesn’t mean that we will see snow or an early freeze, but looking at similar events it does make me curious if we will see similar events. For the full list of historical events, click here. Stay cool and hang in there as we are almost done with this heat. Enjoy your weekend and stay hydrated!

Zach Sharpe

My name is Zach Sharpe. I am the president and forecaster for the Iowa Storm Chasing Network. You can find me on Twitter @Stormchaserzach and on Facebook at:

One Comment

  1. So, if it were to snow next month, would that be the shortest span between the last snow of one winter and the first winter of the next?
    I had a snow day at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City on May 2nd and it was still snowing on the 3rd.

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