Folks, you think you’re baking now?
If you think this is hot, you should have been around in 1936 — now that was a scorcher!
Of course, to remember it, you would have to be 84 or older today, and, no, I do not fall into that category.
Our good friends at the National Weather Service in Gaylord have fantastic records, however, and they have reminded folks all this week that, while our region has been basking in the sun, we still would need to go quite a ways to surpass the heat and humidity of 1936.
How hot was it back then, you ask?
A heat wave hit the area that year right after Independence Day, on July 7, and the heat lasted for over a week. Records fell across the Midwest and Great Lakes region, and that period still stands in U.S. history as the most intense heat wave ever recorded.
The all-time record temperature in Michigan was recorded during that period in Mio, where it reached 112 degrees on July 13.
One would have thought the off-shore breeze in Alpena would have helped some during that time, but it did not. In fact, it was during that stretch that Alpena actually set its own northern Michigan temperature record.
For eight consecutive days during that stretch, Alpena experienced temperatures of more than 90 degrees each day. The average high in Alpena during those days was 101.5 degrees, which is the highest sustained average temperature ever recorded Up North.
During that stretch, on July 13, the temperature reached 106. Other temperatures that week in the city were 100, 104, 102, 104, 100, and 105.
Surprising to me, high temperatures are not necessarily foreign to Alpena in the summer. Looking at weather records of the top 10 stretches of consecutive days in a row with 90-plus degree heat in northern Michigan, Alpena shows up in three of the 10 slots.
In addition to the 1936 record, Alpena had 10 consecutive days in 1953 with the average high of 95.1 degrees, and again in 1987, when it had eight consecutive days with an average high of 93.4 degrees.
While this year we wrestle with the threat of COVID-19, sustained heat like that of 1936 took its own toll on state residents.
During those eight days, 365 people died in the state because of the temperature. Across the country, the death toll exceeded 5,000.
What should area residents expect in the way of weather in the days ahead?
This weekend looks to have cooler temperatures from those of this past week – with expected highs today and Sunday in the 80s.
However, once the new week arrives, temperatures are projected to be right back up there again in the upper 80s and low 90s by the middle of the week.
My advice to you is to stay hydrated with lots of water, avoid long times of exposure out in the sun, and pace yourself in high temperatures.
Few of us are going to complain about the warm weather.
However, all of us need to be mindful that it does come with some hidden dangers.
Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.