This month we travel to the Midwestern state of Iowa, the Hawkeye State. Sitting between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the state is known for its rolling plains and cornfields.
Iowa has a humid continental climate throughout the state with extremes of both heat and cold. The average annual temperature at Des Moines is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are often harsh and snowfall is common. Iowa summers are known for heat and humidity, with daytime temperatures reaching 90 degrees.
Spring ushers in the beginning of severe weather season. Iowa averages about 50 days of thunderstorm activity per year. Iowa averages about 47 tornadoes per year. However, 2008 had the most tornadoes ever in a year: 105!
Most of the state consists of rolling hills. Iowa can be divided into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. The Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. These hills are a clastic, predominantly silt-sized sediment that is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust. Northeast Iowa, along the Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Zone, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous. The state’s northwest area has remnants of the once common wetlands, such as Barringer Slough.