Historical Weather For 1978 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Location

This report describes the historical weather record at the Des Moines International Airport (Des Moines, Iowa, United States) during 1978. This station has records back to December 1947.

Des Moines, Iowa has a humid continental climate with hot summers and no dry season. The area within 25 mi of this station is covered by croplands (95%) and built-up areas (3%)

Calendar

Daylight saving time (DST) was observed at Des Moines, Iowa during 1978. There were two time changes during 1978:

  • DST started on Sunday April 30, 1978 at 3:00 am, from CST (GMT-6) to CDT (GMT-5).
  • DST ended on Sunday October 29, 1978 at 1:00 am, from CDT (GMT-5) to CST (GMT-6).

1978 was not a leap year, so it has 365 days and no February 29th. The first leap year before 1978 was 1976 and the first after was 1980.

The summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes mark the passing of the seasons. They fall on nearly the same day each year, with differences of a day or two depending on the year. In 1978 they occurred on:

Spring Equinox Monday, 20 March 1978.
Summer Solstice Wednesday, 21 June 1978.
Fall Equinox Saturday, 23 September 1978.
Winter Solstice Friday, 22 December 1978.

Temperature

The hottest day of 1978 was September 7, with a high temperature of 96°F. For reference, on that day the average high temperature is 79°F and the high temperature exceeds 89°F only one day in ten. The hottest month of 1978 was August with an average daily high temperature of 85°F.

Relative to the average, the hottest day was March 31. The high temperature that day was 84°F, compared to the average of 56°F, a difference of 28°F. In relative terms the warmest month was September, with an average high temperature of 81°F, compared to an typical value of 75°F.

The longest warm spell was from August 31 to September 17, constituting 18 consecutive days with warmer than average high temperatures. The month of September had the largest fraction of warmer than average days with 73% days with higher than average high temperatures.

Temperature

The daily low (blue) and high (red) temperature during 1978 with the area between them shaded gray and superimposed over the corresponding averages (thick lines), and with percentile bands (inner band from 25th to 75th percentile, outer band from 10th to 90th percentile). The bar at the top of the graph is red where both the daily high and low are above average, blue where they are both below average, and white otherwise.

The coldest day of 1978 was January 10, with a low temperature of -11°F. For reference, on that day the average low temperature is 13°F and the low temperature drops below -5°F only one day in ten. The coldest month of 1978 was January with an average daily low temperature of 3°F.

Relative to the average, the coldest day was March 4. The low temperature that day was -8°F, compared to the average of 25°F, a difference of 33°F. In relative terms the coldest month was February, with an average low temperature of 6°F, compared to an typical value of 19°F.

The longest cold spell was from February 14 to March 11, constituting 26 consecutive days with cooler than average low temperatures. The month of February had the largest fraction of cooler than average days with 93% days with lower than average low temperatures.

The longest freezing spell was from January 8 to February 23, constituting 47 consecutive days with temperatures strictly below freezing.

Hourly Temperature Bands

The full year of hourly temperature reports with the days of the year on the horizontal and the hours of the day on the vertical. The hourly temperature measurement is color coded into meaningful temperature bands: frigid is purple (below 15°F), freezing is blue (15°F to 32°F), cold is dark green (32°F to 50°F), cool is light green (50°F to 65°F), comfortable is yellow (65°F to 75°F), warm is light red (75°F to 85°F), hot is medium red (85°F to 100°F), sweltering is dark red (above 100°F), and missing data is pink.

Clouds

The clearest month of 1978 was September, with 57% of days being more clear than cloudy. The longest spell of clear weather was from September 2 to September 11, constituting 10 consecutive days that were clearer than they were cloudy.

Cloud Coverage

The fraction of time spent in each of the five sky cover categories over the course of 1978 on a daily basis. From top (most blue) to bottom (most gray), the categories are clear, mostly clear, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, and overcast. Pink indicates missing data. Outside of the United States clear skies are often reported ambiguously, leading them to be lumped in with the missing data. The bar at the top of the graph is gray if the sky was cloudy or mostly cloudy for more than half the day, blue if it is clear or mostly clear for more than half the day, and blue-gray otherwise.

The cloudiest month of 1978 was November, with 73% of days being more cloudy than clear. The longest spell of cloudy weather was from November 20 to December 3, constituting 14 consecutive days that were cloudier than they were clear.

Hourly Cloud Coverage

The full year of hourly cloud coverage reports with the days of the year on the horizontal and the hours of the day on the vertical. The sky cover is color coded: from most blue to most gray, the categories are clear, mostly clear, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, and overcast. Pink indicates missing data. Outside of the United States clear skies are often reported ambiguously, leading them to be lumped in with the missing data.

Precipitation

This station reports both the quantity of liquid precipitation and categorical observations of precipitation (e.g., moderate rain, or heavy snow). Both are subject to erroneous reports, but the former is particularly prone to false reports, especially ones indicating an excessive quantity of precipitation. Please bear this in mind when reading the extrema reported in this section.

Liquid Equivalent Quantity

The day with the largest quantity of precipitation was April 17. That day saw 2.248" of liquid (or liquid equivalent) precipitation, compared to a median value of 0.150". The month with the most precipitation was September, with 6.370", compared to a median value of 2.331".

As determined by quantitative measurements, the longest dry spell was from August 28 to September 13, constituting 17 consecutive days with no measured precipitation. The month with the largest fraction of dry days was September, with 77% of days reporting no measured precipitation at all.

The month with the largest fraction of days with at least some measured precipitation was April, with 43% of days reporting some measured precipitation.

Precipitation Quantity

The daily measured quantity of liquid (or liquid equivalent in the case of solid precipitation) precipitation over the course of 1978, with the median non-zero quantity (thick gray line) and 10th, 25th, 75th, and 90th non-zero percentiles (shaded areas). The bar at the top of the graph is green if any precipitation was measured that day and white otherwise.

Present Weather Reports

This station reports when significant weather events (including precipitation) are visually observed at or near the station. Such events do not always correspond to measured quantities of liquid equivalent precipitation, such as when the event is near by not at the station, or in the case of solid precipitation that does not melt in the collection basin.

The day in 1978 with the most precipitation observations was December 31. There were 24 hourly weather reports that day (out of a maximum of 24) in which some form of precipitation was observated at or near the station. The month with the most precipitation observations was January, with 184 hourly present weather reports involving some form of precipitation.

Precipitation Reports

The daily number of hourly observed precipitation reports during 1978, color coded according to precipitation type, and stacked in order of severity. From the bottom up, the categories are thunderstorms (orange); heavy, moderate, and light snow (dark to light blue); heavy, moderate, and light rain (dark to light green); and drizzle (lightest green). Not all categories are necessarily present in this particular graph. The faint shaded areas indicate climate normals. The bar at the top of the graph is green if any precipitation was observed that day and white otherwise.

As determined by the present weather reports, the longest dry spell was from August 28 to September 13, constituting 17 consecutive days with no observed precipitation. The month with the largest fraction of days without observed precipitation was September, with 77% of days reporting no observed precipitation at all.

The month with the largest fraction of days with at least some observed precipitation was January, with 71% of days reporting some observed precipitation.

Hourly Weather Reports

The full year of hourly present weather reports with the days of the year on the horizontal and the hours of the day on the vertical. The color-coded categories are thunderstorms (orange); heavy, moderate, and light snow (dark to light blue); heavy, moderate, and light rain (dark to light green); drizzle (lightest green); freezing rain and sleet (light and dark cyan); snow grains (lightest blue); hail (red); fog (gray); and haze (brownish gray).

Liquid Precipitation Reports

In this section we consider only those weather reports that indicate liquid precipitation. For the purposes of this analysis, we include thunderstorms even though some thunderstorms are not accompanied by liquid precipitation.

The month of 1978 with the largest number of those reports was April, with a total of 118 reports. The day with the largest number of those reports was September 20, with a total of 20 reports.

Liquid Precipitation Reports

The daily number of hourly observed liquid precipitation reports (including thunderstorms) during 1978, with climate normals (faint shaded areas). The bar at the top of the graph is green if any liquid precipitation was observed that day and white otherwise.

Snow

This station reports both when snow is observed to be falling and the measured depth of the snow on the ground. Both are subject to erroneous reports, but the latter is significantly less reliable. Please bear this in mind when reading this section.

Reports

In this section we consider hourly weather reports that contain an observation of falling snow. These reports do not necessarily correspond to accumulation.

The first reported snow fall in 1978 was on July 22; the last was on April 20. The month of 1978 with the largest number of those reports was February, with a total of 170 reports. The day with the largest number of those reports was December 31, with a total of 24 reports.

Snow Reports

The daily number of hourly observed snow reports during 1978, with climate normals (faint shaded areas). The bar at the top of the graph is blue if there was snow fall observed that day and white otherwise.

Depth

Snow depth on the ground is an optional and inconsistently reported part of standard weather reports. It is rarely reported more often than every six hours, it is often skipped, it is often reported erroneously, and a snow depth of zero is normally not distinguished from a missing report. These issues (particularly the last one) make it hard to collect statistics on snow depth with any confidence. To overcome this issue, we base our statistics on only those reports with present non-zero measurements of snow depth. Reports that fail to mention snow that is present, and reports that do not report snow depth because there is no snow on the ground are excluded because they cannot be distinguished from one another.

The first reported accumulation in 1978 was on November 26. The last day of the snow season with snow reported on the ground was March 26. The day with the deepest snow depth was February 14, with an average snow depth of 13.0" over the course of the day. The longest stretch of time during which there was always snow on the ground was from February 12 to March 19 (36 consecutive days).

Snow Depth

Snow depth on the ground (thick blue line) during 1978 with median value of non-zero reports from previous years (thick faint gray line), and with percentile bands (inner band from 25th to 75th percentile, outer band from 10th to 90th percentile). The bar at the top of the graph is blue if there was snow on the ground that day and white otherwise.

Humidity

Humidity is an important factor in determining how weather conditions feel to a person experiencing them. Hot and humid days feel even hotter than hot and dry days because the high level of water content in humid air discourages the evaporation of sweat from a person's skin.

When reading the graph below, keep in mind that the hottest part of the day tends to be the least humid, so the daily low (brown) traces are more relevant for understanding daytime comfort than the daily high (blue) traces, which typically occur during the night. Applying that observation, the least humid month of 1978 was June with an average daily low humidity of 46%, and the most humid month was December with an average daily low humidity of 65%.

But it is important to keep in mind that humidity does not tell the whole picture and the dew point is often a better measure of how comfortable a person will find a given set of weather conditions. Please see the next section for continued discussion of this point.

Humidity

The daily low (brown) and high (blue) relative humidity during 1978 with the area between them shaded gray and superimposed over the corresponding averages (thick lines), and with percentile bands (inner band from 25th to 75th percentile, outer band from 10th to 90th percentile).

Dew Point

Dew point is the temperature below which water vapor will condense into liquid water. It is therefore also related to the rate of evaporation of liquid water. Since the evaporation of sweat is an important cooling mechanism for the human body, the dew point is an important measurement for understanding how dry, comfortable, or humid a given set of weather conditions will feel.

Generally speaking, dew points below 50°F will feel a bit dry to some people, but comfortable to people accustomed to dry conditions; dew points from 50°F to 68°F are fairly comfortable to most people, and dew points above 68°F are increasingly uncomfortable, becoming oppressive around 77°F.

To take some examples, and basing our categorization on the daily high dew point in 1978, January had 31 dry days, no comfortable days, and no humid days; April had 25 dry days, 5 comfortable days, and no humid days; July had no dry days, 6 comfortable days, and 25 humid days; and October had 20 dry days, 11 comfortable days, and no humid days.

Dew Point

The daily low (blue) and high (red) dew point during 1978 with the area between them shaded gray and superimposed over the corresponding averages (thick lines), and with percentile bands (inner band from 25th to 75th percentile, outer band from 10th to 90th percentile).

Wind

The highest sustained wind speed was 48 mph, occurring on January 28; the highest daily mean wind speed was 27 mph (May 13); and the highest wind gust speed was 76 mph (June 26).

The windiest month was April, with an average wind speed of 13 mph. The least windy month was August, with an average wind speed of 8 mph.

Wind Speed

The daily low and high wind speed (light gray area) and the maximum daily wind gust speed (tiny blue dashes).

Visibility

Visibility is the maximum distance at which a given reference object or light can be clearly discerned. In the United States, visibilities that are greater than or equal to 10 miles are typically reported as 10 miles.

The day of 1978 with the lowest average visibility was January 6, with an average visibility of 0.3 mi. The month with the lowest average visibility was January, with an average visibility of 11.0 mi. With an average visibility of 19.3 mi, the month of June had the highest average visibility.

Visibility

The daily average visibility, depicted as gray bars encroaching down from the top of the graph.

Cloud Ceiling

The cloud ceiling is the altitude of the lowest layer of clouds that are at categorized as broken (mostly cloudy) or overcast (cloudy). If no such cloud layer exists then the ceiling is unlimited and no value is reported.

The day of 1978 with the lowest average cloud ceiling was January 6, with an average cloud ceiling of 174'. The month with the lowest average cloud ceiling was February, with an average cloud ceiling of 7049'. The month of August has the highest average cloud ceiling, with an average cloud ceiling of 15750'.

Cloud Ceiling

The daily average cloud ceiling, depicted as gray bars encroaching down from the top of the graph. Missing data or days with insufficient clouds to define a cloud ceiling are shown as white columns.