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CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Mason City’s Troy Monahan competes against Dubuque Hempstead’s Dylan Olson in February during the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.


LISA GROUETTE, The Globe Gazette 

Rockford School's sports field was heavily damaged by a storm on June 9.


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Late flooding, late snowstorms stand out in North Iowa's weather events for 2018 (with photos)

MASON CITY | Snow storms hit northern Iowa as late into the spring as mid-April of this year.

Summertime flooding in Forest City and surrounding areas was significant enough to put that town's Pammel Park underwater and so severe that it was declared a part of a disaster area by President Donald Trump.

A reported tornado tore through Rockford in June and destroyed a farm building, a concession stand, cars, fences and trees. 

Photos: Rockford storm damage, June 10, 2018
Photos: The perils of winter parking in Mason City

Those are just a few of the weather events that marked the meteorological calendar year for northern Iowa. 

In total, at least eight distinct snow storms deposited powder during 2018. There were enough floods, at least three, to break river-cresting records. And if the number of total possible tornadoes is inexact, it's because the high winds often happened during other extreme weather events. 

Combined, these various storms managed to put the Mason City public golf course in the red for 2018 (inclement weather made the links unplayable on multiple occasions) and delay construction.

Photos and videos: Reader and staff images from June 9, 2018 storm
Dozens of storm damage photos in North Iowa on May 28, 2018
10 GIFs that explain how to drive in North Iowa this winter

More than being an inconvenience, some of these storms proved remarkably dangerous. A January snow storm made the roads bad enough that a semi slid several hundred feet off a road outside of Charles City. In addition to destroying property, September flooding in Floyd and surrounding areas forced residents to empty houses and forced clinics in Rockford and Greene to close. 

And in many ways, the weather in northern Iowa was a microcosm for broader patterns across the country.

In a Weather Channel list "The Strangest Things We Saw in 2018's Weather," multiple events were categorized as "downright strange" including the four nor'easters that hit the Eastern Seaboard in March and the "hottest month measured on Earth" in Death Valley, California this July.

Photos: Flooding in Mason City - June 2018
Photos from residents: Forest City flooding
Photos: Flood damage in Forest City
Photos: June 8, 2018 storm

The coldest April in 21 years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, caused the notably late snow storms in Iowa and then spiraled into the hottest May ever recorded.

Jack Boston, a senior meteorologist for Accuweather, concurred that it was an "unusually cold April" across much of the Great Plains and Midwest including Iowa.

"It was 11 degrees below normal in northern Iowa and there were widespread below normal temperatures in those areas," he said.

He went on to say that 2018's summer was a bit wetter than normal particularly in the Midwest and the East.

Reader photos: North Iowa flooding June 8, 2018
Photos: Flooding in Forest City
Photos: Forest City flooding

"Total rainfall for northern Iowa was 18.89 inches; well above the normal 13.88 inches," Boston said.

The most common time for flooding in the Plains and Midwest is springtime while September and October are "drier times of year." But September flooding in North Iowa included rainfall totals as great as 5.5 inches, which Boston also characterized as atypical.

If there's any respite from such a chaotic year in a weather, it's that the NOAA is calling for a "mild winter."

However, snow's already been forecast for multiple days between now and next weekend.

Photos: Rockford storm damage

Photos: Rockford storm damage, June 10, 2018

Dozens of storm damage photos in North Iowa on May 28

Dozens of storm damage photos in North Iowa on May 28, 2018

Photos: Flood damage in Forest City

Photos: Flood damage in Forest City

Steve Bohnel / STEVE BOHNEL, The Globe Gazette  

Zech Anderson looks over all the belongings he had to move in his basement due to flash flooding that occurred June 24 in Forest City. Nothing was damaged, but his carpet had to be completely torn up.


Iowa
Trump critic David Johnson ends 20 years in Iowa Legislature

OCHEYEDAN | David Johnson laments that his message about President Donald Trump and the direction of the Republican Party is falling on deaf ears in Iowa, but is still speaking out as he finishes two decades as a lawmaker.

Johnson's state senate term is days from expiring, as in January the District 1 seat will be taken by Zach Whiting, a conservative Republican from Spirit Lake.

"I worked hard. I traveled the district extensively," Johnson said. "I didn't use talking points, it was from my own experience. I was happy that I really dug into things."

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Iowa State Sen. David Johnson, I-Ocheyedan, worked at Vallema Dairy in Harris, Iowa, most recently driving a truck at the 200-cow operation.

Johnson was a Republican for nearly 90 percent of his 20 years in the Iowa House and Senate. But in summer 2016 Johnson said his conscience wouldn't let him continue as a Republican, since the party was moving to nominate Donald Trump for the presidential race. Trump months later seized the win over Hillary Clinton.

Johnson's still receiving a cold shoulder from Republicans. He said other people have told him of their admiration for his stand in the era of Trump, who continues to churn controversial news cycle after controversial news cycle as he nears the midpoint of the presidential term.

Johnson continues to assert that Republicans need to wake up. Given the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, Johnson said, "This country is headed for a constitutional crisis."

“The constitutional crisis would come if the president were to be indicted, if the president were to be implicated, in criminal activity,” Johnson said.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Iowa State Sen. David Johnson, I-Ocheyedan, stands in the middle of Main Street outside his home in Ocheyedan, Iowa. Johnson, a senator since 2003, is retiring when his term ends in January.

As his legislative career winds down, there was another tough transition for Johnson. Just before the holiday season, Johnson had the heartache of his mother, Mary Jean, dying on Dec. 17 in Iowa.

Johnson said his mother had lived away in Virginia for many years until earlier this year, so the good news was that "I probably saw her more since May than I had in the last 20 years."

Johnson is a native of West Branch in the eastern part of the state, which is the home of Herbert Hoover, the sole Iowan to serve as president. Johnson was the second oldest of 10 kids in his family. Growing up, Johnson said, he liked how the Republican Party stood for a strong national defense and equal treatment of all people.

As a legislator, Johnson has been a supporter of a strong state education system and for clean water initiatives. He's proud of his work in the Capitol and for constituents, saying it was a good legislative career. He was proud to be one of only 50 state senators in a state with 3.1 million people.

Johnson, 68, is a former newspaper publisher and reporter who most recently worked on a dairy farm in Osceola County. He served two terms in the Iowa House before winning his first Senate term in 2002. He beat the Democratic candidate again in 2006, and then ran unopposed in the next two general elections.

He planned to run for re-election in 2018, but in May veered as it became clear an election win was a longshot in District 1, which is comprised of Osceola, Lyon, Dickinson, Clay and Palo Alto counties.

Two years previously, Johnson quit the Republican Party.

"I will not stand silent if the party of Lincoln and the end of slavery buckles under the racial bias of a bigot," Johnson said in June 2016.

After changing his party registration to No Party, Johnson became the first independent to serve in the Senate since 1926. Republicans who controlled the Senate withdrew his committee assignments, leaving him with fewer duties than in prior years.

There was another case of a Republican state legislator in the Heartland leaving the party in December. Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier announced she was leaving the Republican Party and becoming a Democrat.

“Morally, the party is not going where my compass resides,” Bollier said.

A Dec. 21 poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed a majority of Americans say they believe Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia, though the public is divided on whether he should be removed from office if he's found to have stymied the probe.

Johnson said investigator Robert Mueller’s team is “closing in so tightly on the West Wing. There is no doubt the president was directing these activities.”

Johnson said he remains glad he made the principled decision to leave the Republican Party. He still can’t believe how Republicans supported Trump in his campaign, after years of taking a high moral stance on processing through candidates.

“Donald Trump has a long list of broken marriages and affairs and going bankrupt in owning casinos…I am just so disappointed with the Christian Right, that they would support Trump. What matters to them? They are ignoring certain issues,” Johnson said.

He's also concerned about how Trump has had a series of Cabinet members who undermine the federal departments they lead, plus how Johnson asserted Republicans have bought into the public criticism by the president of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Johnson

Johnson’s father, Donald Johnson, unsuccessfully ran for Iowa governor as a Republican in 1968. Since leaving the party, Johnson said he has heard from two former chiefs of staff to Republican governors, who voiced support of his public dissents of the party of Trump.

 According to Johnson, “One said my Dad would have been proud of me for standing up to Trump.”


Local
top story
Mason City man charged after chase that reached speeds of 135 mph

FREEBORN COUNTY, Minn. | A Mason City man who officials say led them on a chase reaching speeds of more than 135 mph has been charged with a felony in Freeborn County District Court.

Nathan Ryan Carlson, 31, was charged with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and misdemeanor reckless driving.

North Iowa's 82 most popular stories in 2018: Crime and courts

Court documents state Carlson was charged after a Minnesota State Patrol trooper was parked at about 2 p.m. Dec. 8 on the east shoulder of U.S. Highway 65, south of Freeborn County Road 1, when he saw a black Chevrolet Impala traveling 88 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The Impala turned left onto County Road 1, court documents state, and Carlson threw items out the driver’s and passenger side windows and continued fleeing at speeds of more than 135 mph while heading west on Stateline Road.

The trooper was told to end the pursuit, and court documents state Carlson continued traveling at 135 mph until the vehicle slowed and turned south into Iowa on Dogwood Avenue. The trooper reported that he later found a beer bottle in the ditch where he saw Carlson throw items from the vehicle.

103 odd North Iowa crime stories from 2018: Pasta salad evidence, cigarette robbery, stolen pigs (with mugshots)

A Worth County deputy later stopped the vehicle. Carlson said, “he thought he would lose his license if he received another speeding citation,” court documents state.

According to law enforcement, Carlson said the alcohol bottles were empty and his girlfriend uses them for crafts.

Carlson’s first appearance is scheduled for Jan. 17.

Photos: North Iowa's mugshots of 2018

North Iowa's mugshots of 2018