—by Todd Thorson
In one week’s time, between April 29 and May 6, Mother Nature had plenty in store for us. The northern and central Iowa region experienced some of the most "crazy" weather we have seen in quite some time. With the grass finally greening up early last week and the flowers and trees beginning to bloom and bud, the sound of lawn mowers and children playing outside filled the air. Then, suddenly, it all changed. Snow and wind, cold temperatures and then more snow, hit the area on Thursday and Friday, as the calendar was heading into May. May, you say! Who would have thought we’d have snow in May!
With temperatures dropping into the 30s, more than a foot of snow fell on parts of northwest and north central Iowa. In the central Iowa area, including Story City and Roland, five to six inches of snow was reported. A rainy patch followed on Friday night, and continued throughout Saturday. All this additional moisture, coupled with slowly rising temperatures, caused the snow melt to combine with the steady rainfall, forcing many residents to contend with wet basements and minor flooding problems. The rivers and streams, including the South Skunk River in Story City, reached the tops of their banks, overflowing in some areas. Fortunately, the flooding issues were short lived, as water levels had begun to subside by Sunday.
The recent drought conditions, still a concern less than a month ago, became a foregone conclusion in some respects; at least for now at least, as dried up river beds had finally been restored. Iowa’s landscape had suddenly changed once again, in a matter of just one week.
The quick run off and snow melt from the northern part of the state caused rivers to fill rather rapidly, aided by the steady rains that followed. By Sunday, however, dry conditions and warmer temperatures had returned. Monday of this week (May 6) saw temperatures reach the 70 degree mark, and abundant sunshine finally had returned; one week after seeing temps hit 80 degrees. It was what happened in between, however, that will be remembered, and properly recorded in the weather annals for all time. The flowers and shrubs, and that beautiful carpet of green grass, soon re-emerged from underneath their blankets of white. The sound of mowers once again filled the air, and we put Mother Nature’s "mishap" behind us.
Though not unprecedented, snow in May is a rare occurrence. The last measurable May snowfall happened on May 1 and 2 in 2005. And the last time more than an inch fell in May was in 1967, when up to eight inches fell in Glenwood. Just two years ago, a trace of snow was reported in Forest City (May 1) and Lansing (May 3).
From the way social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were "blowing up" with plenty of rants and raves about the weather last week, it was purely evident that most people were angry and in shock, frustrated with what had just unfolded. Many made comments about refusing to get their snow shovels back out or that the road crews hadn’t been out to clear the highways. Most stores had even taken their snow shovels off the shelves weeks ago.
One example of dealing with this "inclement weather" was presented by Mayor of Roland Roger Fritz. Roger elected to "make light" of the snow situation and decided to mow his back yard, despite a few inches of snow covering the top of his newly greened-up grass. Using his mower to not only cut the grass, he proceeded to "blow" the snow off as well, all at the same time. His wife Vicki captured the incident on video, and he later posted it on Facebook and Youtube, just to show his friends, and suddenly it went viral!
"I made it for fun, just because I thought it was crazy to have that much snow on May 2," Roger explained.
As the 20 second video continued to evolve in cyberspace, all three Des Moines television stations showed it on their newscasts. "KCCI came up and did an interview about it, with me and my wife Vicki," he said.
The Weather Channel and CNN also contacted Fritz and asked for permission to use the footage on their platforms. "It was a top 10 video on Headline News’ OMG videos for over a day," he continued. "I have friends from Kansas City and the Twin Cities that told me they saw me on their local news. It was also on weather blogs and TV station Facebook pages from Seattle to Houston to Myrtle Beach."
Most people found it quite humorous, even hilarious. "Some people thought I was on drugs," he stated. "Many worried about my lawnmower."
But in the end, all Roger really wanted to do was memorialize the day. It just so happened, however, his antics caused practically the entire country to smile and laugh along with him, making light of an otherwise frustrating and unwelcome weather situation.
"And to top it all off," he concluded, "it makes it into the Story City Herald."