Quad Cities Geography and Climate

The Quad Cities are located along the banks of the Mississippi River. Most of the downtown areas of the Quads lie in the broad, ancient trough that the river dredged for itself during the course of its long life. The present day Hennepin Canal is thought to be one of the ancient river ways of the Mississippi. Over a hundred thousand years ago, a period of intense cold called the Illinoisan Glaciation altered the course of the Mississippi westward to its present banks.

From the broad floodplain formed by the confluence of the ancient Mississippi and current Mississippi River beds, the hills rise steeply out of the flood plain and form a rolling tableland, roughly rectangular in shape, oriented with its long sides facing approximately north and south. The southern side of the hilly region in Illinois is much rougher and more convoluted. Today, Black Hawk State Historical Site runs along the southern edge of this plateau. The rugged land is heavily forested and is breathtaking, especially in the fall when the colors turn.

Quad Cities Climate

The Quad Cities share a climate with virtually all upper Midwest cities. Cold and snowy winters descend on the Quads in December. The cold continues throughout the Christmas holidays, often moderating to spring-like temperatures for several days during early January. This thaw is a brief respite from the winter, which comes back with a vengeance and keeps things cold and snow-covered until the end of February.

March usually brings the end of winter, and the beginning of a chilly, wet spring that slowly moderates as April unfolds, revealing brilliant blue skies that are occasionally swept by thunder showers. May and early June are often the best part of early summer, with pleasant temperatures both day and night. July and August turn up the heat and the days and evening can be quite humid, which can last until after Labor Day.

Late September brings the first hint of fall, as clear days are followed by crisp nights. October ushers in gentle showers that grow chillier and chillier as the month wanes. October is the month for fall colors, and they can be absolutely beautiful in the Quad Cities. The first frosts hit in mid to late October. Although it is somewhat unusual to have significant snow before Halloween, occasional flurries do cover the ground with a light blanket of white which is usually gone within a day.

November is usually dry and chilly with the empty fields and barren trees forming a backdrop for Thanksgiving festivities. Snow flurries do occur in November, but rarely produce significant accumulation. However, once the holiday meal is finished, winter weather is waiting around the corner.