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Posted on: June 29, 2021


The Killer 1911 Heat Wave That Drove People Insane - HISTORY


On July 4, 1911, record temperatures are set in the northeastern United States as a deadly heat wave hits the area that would go on to kill 380 people. In Nashua, New Hampshire, the mercury peaked at 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Other high-temperature records were set all over New England during an 11-day period.

The area from Pennsylvania northeast to Maine was most affected by the stifling heat. New York City was particularly hard hit. In fact, the New York City Health Department put out one of its very first heat advisories during July 1911. Mayor William Gaynor tried to make sure that the city’s ice dealers could keep up their deliveries; in the time before refrigeration, ice was critical in keeping the food supply from spoiling.

By July 13, New York had reported 211 people dead from the excessive heat. One man, apparently disoriented from heat exhaustion, overdosed on strychnine. In Philadelphia, 159 people died from the heat. The types of deaths ascribed to the heat could vary quite a bit in 1911, with some authorities including in the count those who drowned while attempting to cool off by swimming. Heat also sometimes bent rail lines, causing train derailments; deaths in any resulting accidents might also be attributed to the heat. Heat stroke, however, is the typical cause of heat-related deaths. Extremely hot or humid weather or vigorous activity in the sun can lead the body’s temperature-regulation mechanisms to fail, causing body heat to rise to dangerous levels. Symptoms of heat stroke include a headache, dizziness, confusion and hot, dry, flushed skin, as well as a rapid heartbeat and hallucinations.


North America's Most Intense Heat Wave: July and August 1936 | Weather  Underground

THE 1936 HEAT WAVE IN NORTH AMERICA The 1936 North American Heat Wave: The History of America's  Deadly Heat Wave during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression eBook: Editors,  Charles River: Kindle Store

Throughout the summer of 1936, the United States experienced one of the most devastating heatwaves in the nation’s history. For eight consecutive days in 1936, from July 7 to 14, the thermometer at Midway Airport in Chicago climbed above 100 degrees. About 200 deaths were attributed to the heatwave in the city, but Chicago was just one of many places where extremely hot weather caused havoc that summer. Across America, the heatwave was blamed for more than 5,000 deaths and the failure of crops in the nation’s breadbasket. Several Midwestern and Plains states experienced record high average temperatures for the summer. Severe drought accompanied the heat, which caused sharp increases in the price of staple foods during the Great Depression. A man from central Wisconsin described the situation in his area to the Milwaukee Journal on July 8: “We had 103 yesterday and no breeze and there’s no let-up. Last week we had a little rain–just a trifle, just enough to settle the dust.”

A New "Drought Atlas" Tracks Europe's Extreme Weather Through History |  Science | Smithsonian Magazine


The heat waves of 2003 in Western Europe and 2010 in Russia, commonly labelled as rare climatic anomalies outside of previous experience, are often taken as harbingers of more frequent extremes in the global warming-influenced future. However, a recent reconstruction of spring–summer temperatures for WE resulted in the likelihood of significantly higher temperatures in 1540. In order to check the plausibility of this result we investigated the severity of the 1540 drought by putting forward the argument of the known soil desiccation-temperature feedback. Based on more than 300 first-hand documentary weather report sources originating from an area of 2 to 3 million km2, we show that Europe was affected by an unprecedented 11-month-long Megadrought. The estimated number of precipitation days and precipitation amount for Central and Western Europe in 1540 is significantly lower than the 100-year minima of the instrumental measurement period for spring, summer and autumn. This result is supported by independent documentary evidence about extremely low river flows and Europe-wide wild-, forest- and settlement fires. We found that an event of this severity cannot be simulated by state-of-the-art climate models.

FROM Wetter etal 2015: link:


Europe’s hottest summer for 500 years: Europe this year experienced its hottest summer for at least 500 years, providing further evidence of man-made global warming. During the crushing heat wave between June and August this year, which triggered several thousand more deaths than usual, average temperatures eclipsed the previous record set in 1757. The average temperature in Europe was 19.5 degrees Celsius (67 degrees Fahrenheit), two degrees higher than the average summer temperatures recorded on the continent between 1901 and 1995. Central Europe and the Alps region were the worst affected by the heat wave, with temperatures up to five degrees higher than average. It is very likely that human activity and greenhouse gases caused this rise in temperature. Much of this data comes from the writings of monks. Monks used to write accurately and regularly about the weather, with indications about grape harvests or flower blossom.




During the summer of 1896, a 10-day heat wave killed nearly 1,500 people, many of them tenement-dwellers, across New York City. Many thousands of people were crammed into tenements on the Lower East Side, with no air conditioning, little circulating air and no running water. Families were packed together — with five to six people sharing a single room. Extra space on the floor was rented out to single men many of whom worked six days a week doing manual labor out in the sun. This was 10 days [with temperatures reaching] 90 degrees at street level and 90 percent humidity, with temperatures not even dropping at night. No wind. At night there was absolutely no relief whatsoever.”At the time, there was a citywide ban on sleeping in New York City’s public parks. Kohn says one of the simplest things the city could have done was lift the ban — giving people a place to sleep away from their squalid tenements, which might have prevented many of the deaths. They took to the rooftops, and they took to the fire escapes, trying to catch a breath of fresh air,” he says. “Inevitably, somebody would fall asleep or get drunk, roll off the top of a five-story tenement, crash into the courtyard below and be killed. You’d have children who would go to sleep on fire escapes and fall off and break their legs or be killed. People [tried] to go down to the piers on the East River and sleep there, out in the open — and would roll into the river and drown.”Until the very last days of the crisis, the city government did very little to help its poorest residents survive the heat wave. The mayor didn’t call an emergency meeting of his department heads until the very last day — and even then, it was a little-known police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt who championed the efforts to help New Yorkers survive the heat. Roosevelt is the one who champions the idea of the city giving away free ice to the poorest people living on the Lower East Side and he personally supervises the distribution of ice. And after the ice was distributed, Roosevelt took it upon himself to tour the back alleys of some of the worst tenement districts in the United States to see how people were using the ice. So Roosevelt witnessed firsthand how immigrant fathers would chip off ice and give it to their children to suck on … I can’t think how many American presidents have had such intimate contact with the urban poor. The heat wave helped shape Roosevelt’s progressive thinking and his future life in political office — first as the governor of New York and later as the president of the United States. On August 15, 1896, while preparing to depart for a three-week vacation out west, Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the heated term, “The heated term was the worst and most fatal we have ever known. The death-rate trebled until it approached the ratio of a cholera epidemic; the horses died by the hundreds, so that it was impossible to remove their carcasses, and they added a genuine flavor of pestilence, and we had to distribute hundred of tons of ice from the station-houses to the people of the poorer precincts.” The “heated term” was an unprecedented heat wave that hit New York over ten days in August 1896. Temperatures in the 90s were accompanied by high humidity. For the duration, even at night thermometers never dropped below 70 degrees, and over the course of a week and a half the heat wave wore New Yorkers down. The eventual death-toll numbered nearly 1300 victims. Yet the 1896 New York heat wave remains one of the most forgotten natural disasters in American history. It is in the nature of heat waves to kill slowly, with no physical manifestation, no property damage, and no single catastrophic event that marks them as a disaster. For that reason the heat wave is only infrequently remembered, even though it claimed more victims than the 1863 New York City draft riots or the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. Our collective failure to remember this disaster may also have something to do with the identities of the victims. While the very young and very old were the most vulnerable, the heat wave also took a terrible toll on the working poor, the death lists containing the names of hundreds of surprisingly young men who were literally worked to death.

The deadly 1896 and 1911 New England heat waves – Historic Ipswich


40 in the shade: Toronto's worst heatwave - Spacing Toronto


1930s mega-heat waves across central United States

The unprecedented hot and dry conditions that plagued contiguous United States during the 1930s caused widespread devastation for many local communities and severely dented the emerging economy. The heat extremes experienced during the aptly named Dust Bowl decade were not isolated incidences, but part of a tendency towards warm summers over the central United States in the early 1930s, and peaked in the boreal summer 1936. Using high-quality daily maximum and minimum temperature observations from more than 880 Global Historical Climate Network stations across the United States and southern Canada, we assess the record breaking heat waves in the 1930s Dust Bowl decade. A comparison is made to more recent heat waves that have occurred during the latter half of the 20th century (i.e., in a warming world), both averaged over selected years and across decades. We further test the ability of coupled climate models to simulate mega-heat waves (i.e. most extreme events) across the United States in a pre-industrial climate without the impact of any long-term anthropogenic warming. Well-established heat wave metrics based on the temperature percentile threshold exceedances over three or more consecutive days are used to describe variations in the frequency, duration, amplitude and timing of the events. Casual factors such as drought severity/soil moisture deficits in the lead up to the heat waves (interannual), as well as the concurrent synoptic conditions (interdiurnal) and variability in Pacific and Atlantic sea surface temperatures (decadal) are also investigated. Results suggest that while each heat wave summer in the 1930s exhibited quite unique characteristics in terms of their timing, duration, amplitude, and regional clustering, a common factor in the Dust Bowl decade was the high number of consecutive dry seasons, as measured by drought indicators such as the Palmer Drought Severity and Standardised Precipitation indices, that preceded the mega-heat waves. This suggests that land surface feedbacks, resulting from anomalously dry soil prior to summer, amplified the heat extremes triggering the mega-heat waves. Using the model experiments, we assess whether the combined warm phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation provide a necessary condition to trigger decade-long droughts that spawn mega-heat waves to cluster across consecutive summers.


1921 – Hottest July on record across Eastern Canada and parts of the Northeastern US, part of a very warm year in those places. Parts of the United Kingdom also saw recording breaking heat, also part of a very warm year. … Every year from 1952 to 1955 featured major heat waves across North America. The Central England Temperature for July was 18.5 °C (65.3 °F), which was the 8th warmest since records began in 1659, and the warmest since 1852. The year of 1921 was the warmest on record at the time, but has since been eclipsed by 15 other years.


July 1757 heatwave – Europe, hottest summer in 500 years before 2003.
1896 Eastern North America heat wave – killed 1,500 people in August 1896.
1900 – historical heatwave of the center of Argentina between the first eight days of February 1900 known as “the week of fire” affected the city of Buenos Aires and Rosario with temperatures of up to 37 °C (99 °F) but with a very high index of humidity that elevated the sensation of heat to 49 °C (120 °F) severely affecting the health of people causing at least more than 478 fatalities.
20th century
1901 – 1901 eastern United States heat wave killed 9,500 in the Eastern United States.
1906 – during the 1906 United Kingdom heat wave which began in August and lasted into September broke numerous records. On the 2nd temperatures reached 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) which still holds the September record however some places beat their local record during September 1911 and September 2016.
1911 – 1911 Eastern North America heat wave killed between 380 and 2,000 people.
1911 – 1911 United Kingdom heat wave was one of the most severe periods of heat to hit the country with temperatures around 36 °C (97 °F). The heat began in early July and didn’t let up until mid September where even in September temperatures were still up to 33 °C (91 °F). It took 79 years for temperature higher to be recorded in the United Kingdom during 1990 United Kingdom heat wave.
1913 – in July, the hottest heat wave ever struck California. During this heat wave, Death Valley recorded a record high temperature of 57 °C (134 °F) at Furnace Creek, which still remains the highest ambient air temperature recorded on Earth.[1][2]
1921 – Hottest July on record across Eastern Canada and parts of the Northeastern US, part of a very warm year in those places. Parts of the United Kingdom also saw recording breaking heat, also part of a very warm year. The Central England Temperature for July was 18.5 °C (65.3 °F), which was the 8th warmest since records began in 1659, and the warmest since 1852. The year of 1921 was the warmest on record at the time, but has since been eclipsed by 15 other years.[3]
1923–1924 – during a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924, the Western Australian town of Marble Bar reached 38 °C (100 °F).[4]
1930s – Almost every year from 1930 to 1938 featured historic heat waves and droughts somewhere in North America, part of the Dust Bowl years.
1936 – 1936 North American heat wave during the Dust Bowl, followed one of the coldest winters on record—the 1936 North American cold wave. Massive heat waves across North America were persistent in the 1930s, many mid-Atlantic/Ohio valley states recorded their highest temperatures during July 1934. The longest continuous string of 38 °C (100 °F) or higher temperatures was reached for 101 days in Yuma, Arizona during 1937 and the highest temperatures ever reached in Canada were recorded in two locations in Saskatchewan in July 1937.


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