Summer is a wonderful time. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and we all want to get outdoors to enjoy what it has to offer. Of course, summer can also be not so pleasant. It is the season of hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, heat waves, droughts and more. Let’s look back at some of the worst summers in history. These are summers that pushed humans to their limits, even killing an unfortunate few.
While these may be in the past, with climate change in the coming years, bad summers could become the norm. As we prepare for this summer, let’s look at the worst summers in history and ask why something like a portable air conditioner is not only helpful for comfort, but can actually be life-saving.
It is important to look back into the past because according to The Independent and a study published in the PNAS journal, scientists are 75% sure this will be the hottest summer on record, thanks in no small part to El Nino and its record high ocean temperature in the Pacific currently.
- 1936: Heat waves are bad, but during The Great Depression, the United States experienced the hottest and most severe heat wave in the modern history of North America. The heat wave began in late June when temperatures across the United States went above 100⁰F. Drought conditions worsened and by July, some places in the United States reached 110⁰F or higher for several consecutive days. In August, temperatures continued to be above 100⁰F and the heat wave extended into September where it finally ended. Altogether, 5,000 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States.
- 1980: Considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in United States history, the heat wave that extended through the United States in the summer of 1980 cost the nation $20 billion due to drought and agricultural damage. It also killed 1,700 people because of heat-related issues.
- 2011: This year had the hottest heat wave to hit North America in 76 years, or since the 1936 heat wave. Temperatures in many places reached an unbelievable 131⁰F during its height. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the United States had one of its hottest summers on record, and only the summer of 1936 was hotter.
- July 2012: This was the hottest month in the history of the United States, and the summer itself was the third hottest. From June to August of that year, 10,000 daily high temperatures were broken.
- 2010: The fourth hottest summer on record for the United States and only seven of the 48 lower states had average temperatures. This warm weather caused a number of tornado outbreaks including 74 tornadoes in one day in Minnesota, which was a record for that state. Many parts of the country also had abnormal precipitation, with Wisconsin having its wettest summer, with 6.91 inches above average of rainfall happening.
The hottest temperature recorded in human history is 134⁰F. It was recorded on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek, CA, part of present-day Death Valley National Park.
- 1981: The most rain to ever fall in one season in the United States happened in Kukui, Hawaii, when 704 inches of rain fell over the course of the summer.
- 2011: The summer of 2011 was the rainiest summer ever in New York City. While June and July were dry, August was extremely wet with 25 inches, beating out the old record by three inches.
- 2013: For California, there was never a drier year than this one. In fact, this is believed to be the driest year seen in over 500 years, and certainly the driest since record keeping began in 1894. Due to this dry summer, 95 per cent of California is in drought, and 27 per cent is in extreme drought.
- 1816: Summer isn’t always warm and no other year experienced this better than in this “Year Without A Summer.” When Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it caused the global temperatures to cool by as much as .7 degrees. In the United States, a dry fog was seen over much of the Eastern U.S. and frost killed off most crops in high elevations in May of 1816. In June, frost was still being seen as far south as New Jersey, and snow fell on June 6 in a number of places.
- 2011: This was one of the stormiest years on record, thanks in no small part to the record high temperatures in the summer. From May 24-26, 158 tornadoes broke out, injuring 402 people and causing $7.3 billion in damages.
This year is expected to be a record-breaking summer as well, so if you are going to be buying a portable air conditioner, evaporative coolers, or a fan to stay cool, now is the time to do it. Most likely, the stores are going to be sold out before you know it. This is especially true with a fan or portable air conditioner because you are going to want to stay cool. The heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous for you.
Thanks to the re-emergence of El Nino, at levels not seen since the Super El Nino of 1996, we can expect temperatures to be higher. In addition, many of the drier states will just keep getting drier, while states in the Midwest and on the eastern seaboard will get plenty of rainfall. Top that off with some huge storms expected to come, and you can bet that 2014 is going to be one chaotic summer.
Make your summer as pleasant as possible though by making sure you have ready to go. That way you can at least be feeling cool, while the rest of the country is sweltering in the heat, swimming through the rain, drying out in the summer or watching the horizon for huge storms.