Summer of 1934: Statewide Heat Wave

Post date: May 20, 2010 4:28:21 PM

The summer of 1934 ranks as the hottest in Ohio since temperature records began in 1883. The average summer temperature of 75.7 degrees for June, July, and August broke the old record set in 1901 and was 5 degrees above normal. The hottest recent summer was 2003 with an average temperature of 73.8 degrees. Warm and dry weather was a trademark of the early 1930s in Ohio and much of the United States. Dry soil and parched vegetation provided little water for evaporation so surfaces heated to temperatures not normally experienced in the Heartland.

Temperatures during June 1934 were above normal on all but two or three days. July 1934 was the hottest month ever recorded in Ohio. Many heat records were set on July 21, including 106 in Columbus, 109 in Cincinnati, and 111 in Wilmington and Hamilton. It was on July 21, 1934, that Ohio’s hottest temperature occurred. A weather station four miles northwest of Gallipolis recorded 113 degrees. Heat waves later in July sent temperatures to 111 degrees at Defiance, 110 at Fremont, 109 at Findlay and Chillicothe, 108 at Delaware, and 107 at Bowling Green. Heat takes a great toll on human life, especially among the elderly and ill. Estimates of the death toll in Ohio were about 160 dead just during the week of July 20-26. This was prior to air-conditioning in homes. The oppressively warm nights during July 1934 led many residents to seek relief sleeping on porches, roofs, and even on their lawns.