If you think it’s been hot this month, you are correct. Picture even hotter temperatures – without air conditioning in your home or your car or your office or your church — and you’ll get a good idea of what it was like in the summer of 1936. In Des Moines in July, there were 17 days at 100 degrees or hotter (we’ve had 10 this month), including a stretch of 15 days in a row, topping out at 110 on the 25th. It was 117 degrees on that same day in Atlantic and Logan. By the 16thof the month, 342 people in Iowa and over 4,000 nationwide had died from the heat. Des Moines’ average high temperature was 99.1, still the hottest July on record. To add to the misery of that torrid July 76 years ago, there was less than half an inch of rain all month, and that all fell on one day. President Roosevelt called for and attended a drought conference in Des Moines in September.
And what might we look forward to in August? Hard to say, but in 1936 there were eight more days of 100+ temperatures.
Des Moines Tribune, July 16, 1936
Des Moines Tribune, September 3, 1936
USDA Climatological Data