Meteorologist Jim Lee, at the National Weather Service, says this is the 80th anniversary of Iowa’s most brutal season on record, the scorching summer of 1936.
“Most of the midsummer was blazing hot,” Lee says. “July, in particular, was quite spectacular. We had in Des Moines 15 consecutive days where it topped 100 degrees which is far and away the record. In fact, if you look at the daily record highs for each day in the month of July, about a third of them are from 1936, even to this day.”
Of course, that was long before air conditioners were in most homes. Not only was the summer of 1936 super-hot, it was also exceptionally dry. Lee says Des Moines only got 41-hundreds of an inch of rain during that July, well below the normal four inches. “1936 was a particularly wacky year,” Lee says. “Not only was it the hottest summer and hottest month on record pretty much across the entire central U.S., but the preceding winter in January and February of ’36 were one of the coldest and snowiest on record, so it was kind of a crazy year.”
Nationwide, there were 5,000 deaths attributed to the heat wave 80 summers ago due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)