A Look Into History: Hot, Hotter, Hottest

A Look Into History: Hot, Hotter, Hottest

By Idy Perl

New York can get hot in the summer, but it’s not often that we see heat waves like we’re experiencing this week. This week’s heat wave is expected to last from Tuesday through Friday, but it’s not the longest heat wave New York has experienced, nor will it reach the highest temperatures recorded here either.

Let's take a cold drink and dive into the hot weather of the past:

The longest heat wave in New York took place in 1953 and lasted for a total of 12 days from August 24th until September 4th. The temperature during those 12 days ranged from 90 degrees to 102 degrees. 

The deadliest heat wave though took place in 1896, when living conditions in urban New York City were cramped and stuffy, and air conditioning wasn’t yet a thing. In the heat wave of 1896 humidity levels reached 90% which made the indoors unbearable. People were seen sleeping on fire escapes and rooftops to try and catch a nonexistent breeze. During that heat wave, roughly 1,500 people died from heatstroke, exhaustion, and other heat-related issues, but in addition, more deaths were caused by people falling from fire escapes and rooftops, or drowning in the East River where they went to try and cool down.

The hottest it’s ever gotten in New York was recorded on July 9th, 1939, when a temperature of 106 degrees was recorded in Manhattan. In other parts of New York the temperature reached 105 on that same day. 

Those numbers are almost nothing compared to the highest temperature recorded in the United States. That award goes to Death Valley in California, which averages 120 degrees in the summer, and holds the world record of the highest temperature recorded at 130 degrees in July of 1913. 

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