The Iowa Storm Chasing Network usually focuses on severe weather threats. But temperatures like this have grabbed their forecasters’ attention. The site says the temperatures will be the coldest in almost two decades, with February 1996 the last time things got this bad.
Most of Iowa will see near-record lows, but forecasts don’t quite break the mark in most areas. Ottumwa could be the exception. Monday’s record is -14, the same as the forecast low Sunday night.
Monday’s forecast high of -6 probably won’t set the record, though. The lowest daytime high for that date was -8, set back in 1912. The mark is, “not out of the question,” but it doesn’t look likely, Hillaker said.
Two days in Ottumwa history stand out when talking about the lowest high temperatures. On Christmas Eve 1983, the daytime topped out at -10. The all-time record comes from Feb. 2, 1996, when temperatures crawled to -14 before sinking back down.
That cold wave still sends shivers down Iowans’ spines. Two cities, Oelwein and Fayette, saw highs of -20 in the 1996 event.
“Ninety-six was kind of in a class by itself,” Hillaker said.