OTTUMWA — The first week of December has felt more like October, but changes are on the way.
Average highs for the first week of December are around 40 degrees for Ottumwa. That’s where forecasters expect Friday to be, but Saturday and Sunday will be right back in the upper 40s and low 50s, where they’ve been for most of this week. It’s not record warmth — that’s close to 70 degrees — but it’s much more pleasant than what people expect for the holiday season.
Next week won’t be nearly as nice. The National Weather Service expects Monday to have a chance of rain and a high of 42. Tuesday won’t reach freezing, with a high of 24. And Tuesday night will drop further, with wind chills Tuesday morning expected to be in the low single digits.
Once temperatures drop, they’re expected to stay low. Nothing near records, but much closer to normal for December. The good news, though, is that no winter storms are expected over the next couple weeks.
Most years, that would just be good news. This year it could have safety implications. Work on the Des Moines NWS radar’s support structure began Dec. 2 and should take about two weeks. During that time the radar closest to Ottumwa is offline, meaning it is much harder for the office to get a good look at conditions close to the ground.
That gap would be particularly important during severe weather season, but it also helps estimate snow and ice totals during the winter. As things currently stand, the radar should be up and running again by the time the next significant systems arrive.
In the longer term, forecasters expect relatively warm weather. The Climate Prediction Center’s assessment gives Iowa an above-average chance of above-average temperatures for the next month. The three month outlook is a bit different, with the Midwest having equal chances of above- and below-normal temperatures. Precipitation is expected to be higher than normal, though, raising the possibility of a snowy winter season.