Icy Plunge a Record?

My internal weather geek kicked in yesterday as we careened from balmy to icy in a matter of hours.

I was in Ames Sunday morning, where the temperature dropped from 45 to 25 in a about two hours after the passage of an arctic cold front. At midday, we drove east to Cedar Rapids, where the temp was 55 when we arrived. Strange.

But was it record-breaking strange? I called Harry Hillaker, the state climatologist, to find out.

The answer is it’s pretty tough to say. Hillaker said he knows of no solid, all-time record for temperature swings. But he did give me some interesting history from his archives.

Cedar Rapids’ drop from an official high of 55 Sunday to a  low of -2 early this morning —  a 57 degree plunge — is not unprecedented. He pointed to Nov. 11-12, 1911, when Cedar Rapids saw a high of 72 plunge to an overnight low of 10 degrees the next morning.

Keokuk recorded a high of 79 on 11/11/11 and hit 11 degrees the next morning., a 68-degree drop.

The steepest plunge Hillaker could remember was April 2-3, 1982, when Sioux Center recorded a high of 81 which dropped to 11 degrees the next morning. Now that’s a cold slap in the face.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, the temperature was zero in LeMars and 62 in Burlington, Hillaker said. Ottumwa recorded the steepest drop, from 61 on Sunday to a low of zero this morning.

Now, get ready to replace all that snow we lost, and then some.

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