With all the rain that we have had, the flooding, deaths, and lost homes due to water damage it is amazing that we Iowans continued to whether the storm.
Several studies have been done over the years on how weather can change or affect your mood. Although there are some differing perspectives on this, a number of reports confirm that weather does in fact affect our mood. Does that mean that Iowans are walking around depressed all the time?
No not really. But we do have the tendency to fall under the woes of depression as well as feelings of loneliness and isolation do to the serious rain fall we have had this year.
A review on studies done
A study done by Jaap Denissen of Humboldt University in Berlin had 1,233 participants take part. Participants were living in Germany at that time and received questionnaires that measured tiredness and positive and negative mood. This was followed by a daily online diary which also measured tiredness and positive and negative mood.
Most of the participants began the study in the fall with the average age ranging from 13-68 years old. They were first given the personality tests that measured extraversion, neuroticism, how open one is to experiences, and how agreeable and conscientious they are.
Researchers found that daily temperature, wind, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure, and how long the days were had no significant effect on positive mood.
However temperature, wind, and sunlight were found to have an effect on negative mood. Sunlight or lack thereof might seem to play a role on how tired people said they were. Wind had more of a negative effect on mood in spring and summer than fall and winter.
The authors speculated that those that begin to get darker moods as the days got shorter maybe people at higher risk for seasonal affective disorder (sad).
Another study done by Howard and Hoffman had 24 college students keep track of their mood via a questionnaire over 11 consecutive days. They found that humidity, temperature, and hours of sunshine had the greatest effect on mood. High levels of humidity lowered scores on concentration while increasing reports of sleepiness.
Rising temperatures lowered anxiety and skepticism mood scores. The number of hours of sunshine was found to predict optimism scores significantly.
Other studies have also been done which confirmed the above two reports and some which conclusions suggested there was no correlation between depression and the time of the year nor the amount of daily hours of sunshine.
July 2010 Climatology Report
With studies such as above proving that weather affects mood, Iowans are a rare breed to deal with all the rain and humidity yet still maintain a positive outlook.
Here in Des Moines alone several individuals have lost their homes, businesses, and most importantly their lives due to flash flooding and water level rises yet continue to be optimistic, refusing to allow the weather to get them down or ruin their lives.
According to the July 2010 climatology bureau the Iowa temperatures averaged 75.3° or 1.5° of above normal while precipitation total 7.93 inches or 3.68 inches more than normal. This ranks as the 45th warmest and fifth wettest July among 138 years of records.
Although July rain fall was not as great as in June it was more concentrated in short periods of time which resulted in greater flooding. The largest rain event of the month came on the night of the 22nd when Oelwein officially recorded 9.93 inches of rain. An additional 3-4 inches of rain fell over the same area of north east Iowa the next night.
The affect of the rain on Des Moines and local residents
From complaints about tomatoes turning brown loss of homes, the effect of all the rain has dampened many individual’s spirits in the Des Moines, Colfax and Ames areas.
This month’s rain prevented many from getting home when the Skunk River overflowed, getting to work, and being able to care for their families in the normal fashion.
Despite the negative moods and attitudes however, many residents maintain a positive and optimistic mindset despite the flooding and inconveniences the rain has presented.
Jerry in Mitchellville stated “the rain is good for the pizza business!” That is the type of optimism you will find throughout this area. In times of tragedy and inconvenience, even deaths, the community comes together to rebuild, re-unite, and form bonds which overcome any form of depression or moodiness that the weather may try to inflict.