The “Dust Bowl” years of 1930-36 brought some of the hottest summers on record to the United States, especially across the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lake States. For the Upper Midwest, the first few weeks of July 1936 provided the hottest temperatures of that period, including many all-time record highs. The string of hot, dry days was also deadly. Around 90 people are believed to have perished in the QCA. Nationally, around 5000 deaths were associated with the blistering heat wave.
The intensity of the heat was so bad that many slept outdoors where lows near 80 were substantially cooler than the interior of homes with no air conditioning!
In the Quad Cities the temperature reached 100°F and above for a record eleven consecutive days from July 5 to July 11. People had to cope with the extreme heat without the benefit of air-conditioning. The all-time high and high minimum temperatures for the Quad Cities were recorded on July 14th when the mercury reached a sizzling 111.3°F and only dropped to a low of 84°F. 1936 was (and still is) the warmest summer on record with an average temperature of 78.8 degrees. July of ’36 is also the warmest month with an average temperature of 85 degrees.
Here are some of the highs from around my area during the siege:
Several factors led to the deadly heat of early July 1936:
A series of droughts effected the U.S. during the early 1930s. The lack of rain parched the earth and killed vegetation, especially across the Plains states.
Poor land management (farming techniques) across the Plains furthered the impact of the drought, with lush wheat fields becoming barren waste lands.
Without the vegetation and soil moisture, the Plains acted as a furnace. The climate of that region took on desert qualities, accentuating its capacity to produce heat.
A strong ridge of high pressure set up over the west coast and funneled the heat northward across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes.
Heat won’t be a problem today as an exceptionally cool air mass dives into the Midwest. As the cool air gets established today it will be cold enough aloft for some widely scattered and brief showers. These will generally be light in nature and the overall coverage will be greatest NE of the Quad Cities, especially over Minnesota, Wisconsin, and NE Illinois.
Both Tuesday and Wednesday night have the potential for record lows. 40s are expected to be widespread from I-80 north. A few 30s are possible Wednesday night in northern Wisconsin. Yikes.
The refreshingly cool air will be around for several days during a week which statistically is the hottest of the year. If you are going to have record lows, this is the time of year to have them. Here is the 7 day forecast for the Quad Cities. Every single day has highs on the upper 60s to upper 70s, far below the norm of 87. Lows are generally forecast in the upper 40s to low 50s, far more typical of late September or early October.
Along with the cool weather will be plenty of dry air and low humidity. Even with a few instability showers Monday and Tuesday rainfall the next 7 days is predicted to be 1/10th of an inch or less. It’s been a long time since we went a week with rainfall as light as that! Enjoy the fall preview and be glad its not 111.3! Roll weather…TS