Terry’s Take: The summer of ’36, hotter than hot!
At this time in the summer of 1936, a record breaking heat wave continued to bake Iowa as the temperature rose all the way to 117 at Atlantic and Logan marking the second-highest official temperature on record in Iowa. Many stations across about the southern half of Iowa tied, broke, or had already shattered their all-time records with reported highs including 113 at Corydon and Guthrie Center, 112 at Knoxville and Shenandoah, 111 in Davenport, Creston, Little Sioux, Winterset, and 110 at Des Moines which is still tied for the all-time record at that location. The weather was made even more unbearable by very warm overnight low temperatures which prevented relief even during the early morning hours. Reported low temperatures included 84 at Atlantic and Logan (making the daily average temperature at each of those stations 100.5), 84 at Creston, 82 at Corydon, 85 at Lamoni, and 87 at Shenandoah.
July 1936 remains to this day the hottest month in Iowa history with a statewide average temperature of 83.2 for the month. In fact, that month was so excessively hot over such a large area of the country that even today 11 states have all-time statewide high temperature records that were set or tied in July of 1936. The prolonged extreme heat was devastating to humans, animals, crops and vegetation. The Weather Bureau in Des Moines at the time described the effects as follows: “The hot weather caused a great deal of suffering and scores of persons died as a result, while the heat was also a contributing factor in the deaths of hundreds, particularly among the aged. Farm animals suffered greatly. Water supplies were depleted, and all vegetation was baked to such a degree of extreme dryness that a critical fire danger developed.”
In the Quad Cities 21 record highs were established during June, July, and August. 20 of the 21 summer records involved highs of 100 or higher. 13 or the records occurred during July when the average temperature of 85 degrees made it the hottest month in Quad Cities history!