Feb 27, 2024 - News

Iowa weather in February brings record warmth, then sudden cold

Animated illustration of the Des Moines skyline with snowflakes in the shape of corn kernels falling on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Buckle up — Iowa's weather rollercoaster of record-breaking highs and sudden lows is bringing possible snow Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: The sudden cold will cause us to quickly go from shorts back to winter coats.

  • Polk County Emergency Management is activating its extreme temperature plan because of Tuesday morning's below-zero wind chills.

By the numbers: February's average temp has been 42° — more typical for the end of March to mid-April.

  • Monday's high of 78° broke the all-time record of 70° set in 1896.
  • Yet the projected high Tuesday is just 33°.

State of play: Cold air from Canada is moving in, resulting in a rapid temperature drop, National Weather Service meteorologist Marvin Percha tells Axios.

What they're saying: These shifts are "not that common," Percha says, but Iowa is susceptible to them because of our open terrain and exposure to both cold Arctic air and the warming Gulf Coast.

The big picture: A combination of human-caused climate change and natural variability is warming air and ocean temperatures globally, writes Axios' Andrew Freedman.

🥶 Linh's thought bubble: The warm weather feels so good and also oh, so wrong.

What's next: Des Moines warms up again Thursday, but expect colder temperatures to return next week.

📣 Shoutout: From budding trees to canceled snowshoe hikes, how has the warm February affected you? Email [email protected] and let us know.


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