Though it has been hot and humid lately in southern Wisconsin, this summer has been relatively mild compared to previous summers.
Since June 1 in Madison, the daily average temperature has been 1.8 degrees above normal and we have had four days with high temperatures hotter than 90 degrees (and three more at 89 degrees).
In 1988, Madison had 35 days with high temperatures over 90 degrees (but only 11 before July 8 ) with one stretch of nine straight days over 90 degrees from late July through the first week of August.
The summer of 1955 has the record of 40 days with highs over 90 degrees. For comparison, the average number of such days in Madison over the last 15 years has been 5.6 per year, with zero occurring in 2004.
The summer of 1936 easily stands as the hottest summer in the modern history of North America. First, in Madison, the hottest day of all time occurred on July 13, 1936, when the temperature reached 107 degrees (the all-time state record of 114 degrees was set the same day at Wisconsin Dells). That second week of July 1936 was so unbearably hot that residents of Madison elected to sleep outside on the Capitol Square seeking relief from the heat of their homes.
Across the Midwest it was even worse. In Steele, N.D., the all-time state record of 121 degrees was set July 6. Chicago’s Midway Airport recorded high temperatures of 100 degrees or higher on 12 consecutive days from July 6-17. Later that summer a string of 18 consecutive days at or above 100 degrees was recorded in Mount Vernon, Ill., from Aug. 12 to Aug. 29. Finally, Lincoln, Neb., recorded a daily minimum temperature of 91 degrees on July 25.
So despite the recent heat, it could be much worse.