In 1978, Iowa Plunged Into An Arctic Freeze That Makes This Year’s Winter Look Downright Mild

Winter in Iowa is always pretty brutal, but we get by with the occasional warm day and gorgeous snowfall that turns our favorite towns into winter wonderlands. One year, though, winter was far from a wonderland. Do you remember the incredibly cold winter of 1978-1979? That year, an arctic freeze in Iowa brought about what felt like the longest winter of all time.

Do you remember the winter of 1978-1979? Share your snowy memories with us in the comments below!

If you think another winter could qualify for Iowa’s worst, read about these 10 Impossible To Forget Winter Storms In Iowa’s History and decide for yourself!

The OIYS Visitor Center

Arctic Freeze in Iowa

December 09, 2021

What are Iowa winter temperatures like?  

In a word? COLD. Iowa winters are known for being pretty brutal, and freezing or below-freezing temperatures aren’t uncommon ‘round these parts. During the month of January, for example, the northwestern parts of the state usually see highs of less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the southeast parts aren’t much warmer, with highs usually in the low 20s. If you were to compare Iowa to other Midwestern states, you’d realize that, when it comes to snow, things could be worse – surrounding states tend to get more than Iowa does, but that does not mean Iowa is immune to a good blizzard (or ice storm). The coldest recorded temperature in Iowa history (thus far) was a bitterly frigid –47 degrees F in Elkader. It’s tough to describe (and to fathom) temperatures that low until you’ve experienced it yourself.  

What is there to do during winter in Iowa?  

After reading the above paragraph, you’re interested in experiencing it yourself, eh? Well, good, because there is plenty of super fun and exciting things to do during winter in Iowa. Obviously, you have the traditions like sledding, snowball fighting, snowman building, and things like that, but there’s more than just that. There are entire towns throughout the state that love to go all-out in terms of becoming Bonafide Christmas towns, like something out of a Hallmark holiday movie. For example, did you know Iowa’s got a town that’s literally called the “Christmas City”? It’s the town of Wyoming, and there, you’ll find some of the most dazzling lights displays in the state and more than 40 decorated trees, all waiting for you to wander on through. There are also the towns of Winterset, Storm Lake, and the Amana Colonies, all happy to bring on the cheer. For more of our favorite places to visit (with lots to do) during winter in Iowa, check this article out!