How does our recent heat wave stack up against past events?

With another wave of dangerous heat upon us, it is of interest to consider how the last heat wave rates alongside other memorable heat waves. First of all, each day from July 4-6, Madison’s high temperature was more than 100 degrees with the 104 on July 5 ranking as third highest of all time. Moreover, we set record high temperatures for five consecutive days from July 2-6.

The last time a three-day streak of temperatures over 100 occurred here was July 1936. During that heat wave, Madison set a record high temperature record of 107 (on July 13, 1936), while the state record of 114 was set that day at Wisconsin Dells. During that July 1936 heat wave, 14 states set their temperature records — incredible!

From June 27-July 9, we had 12 of 13 days with a high temperature of 90 or greater, with an embedded streak of 10 days in a row that ended July 6 (ranking it third all-time after a 15-day streak in July 1901 and a

13-day streak in July 1936).

Through July 9 we had 20 days with a high temperature at or above 90 this year. Through Sunday we had 23, with another one certain to come today. The record year for such days was 1988 when 90 was reached 35 times — well beyond the average of 13. By July 9, 1988, we had only 13 such days so we are well ahead of the pace for 90-degree days set in that record year.

Category: Climate
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