Miserable Summer Heatwaves That Boomers Suffered Through

Senior woman, exhausted from sweltering summer heat, uses electric fan to freshen up. Old grandma, tired of extreme heatwave, enjoying fresh air while sitting on couch by table with ventilator at home

Miserable Summer Heatwaves That Boomers Suffered Through

Summer heatwaves are an absolute chore to get through. In addition to the struggle to keep cool, they pose different problems ranging from irritating to outright dangerous. For baby boomers, summer heatwaves are nothing new, especially in the post-war years. Take a stroll down memory lane in remembering some of the worst summer heatwaves on the books.


The temperatures in 1954 hadn’t been seen since the Dust Bowl.

Starting of our list of summer heatwaves is 1954, a year when the worst of the heat came through. Over 22 days more than 11 states experienced temperatures well into 100° F. Of special note is East St. Louis, Illinois where temperatures reached 117° F, a record high for the area that has yet to be broken.


New York City suffered from uncharacteristically high humidity in 1972.

The Northeast saw massive summer heatwaves in 1972. Areas like New York City sweltered under intense heat and extreme humidity. This was a severe enough heatwave that around 900 people died before temperatures fell in line with seasonal averages for the area.


1980 is perhaps one of the worst heatwaves in recent memory.
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The first year Reagan was in office saw some of the most intense summer heatwaves to hit the United States. Exacerbated by a drought, the 1980 heatwave mostly affected the Southeast and Central portions of the United States. Texas in particular was hit hard, with temperatures reaching well into 117° F in Wichita. Around 1,000 people would lose their lives and a further $20 billion in economic losses would be reported in the wake of this heatwave.


Derechos frequently cause massively damaging heat waves across the United States.
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The Upper Midwest and Corn Belt greatly suffered in one of the worst summer heatwaves for the region in 1983. States like Minnesota saw record temperatures of well over 100° F, partly thanks to the I-94 derecho ravaging the area. While the loss of life wasn’t as high, this was one heatwave that made the news across the country.


1988 is one of the worst droughts in the 20th century.

Boomers weren’t out of the woods with summer heatwaves in the 1980s, sadly. 1988 saw a massive drought, which brought some of the most catastrophic losses of life recorded in modern history thanks to the heat. An estimated 10,000 people would lose their lives before the summer heat, calling to mind the adverse conditions Americans faced during the Dust Bowl.



remember this heatwave and being stuck inside for a week or two due to the heat.

The first of the summer heatwaves to strike the 1990s came in 1995. This heatwave primarily affected Chicago, with temperatures hitting well above 106° F. Chicago isn’t particularly known for its cooling facilities, given its more temperate climate. Sadly, this resulted in around 800 deaths, mostly from minority and senior populations in the area.


The droughts in the last years of the 90s were among some of the worst in the East.

The Eastern part of the United States wasn’t out of the frying pan just yet in the 1990s. 1999 saw one of the worst droughts on record for the Eastern Seaboard, with states like Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island being ravaged by rising temperatures. West Virginia perhaps bore the worst of it, thanks to a lack of rainfall and raging wildfires in the area.


The 2000 heatwave showed America wasn’t out of the woods with heat just yet.

The start of the new millennium also marked one of the worst summer heatwaves seen in the United States. While this one wasn’t nearly as damaging as the ones seen in 1988 or 1980, it still bears mention thanks to record temperatures in some American cities.


2006 was brutal in terms of summer heatwaves.
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Rounding out our list of brutal summer heatwaves is 2006 which saw a massive portion of the United States enveloped. The death toll was far smaller with only 220 people perishing. This marks the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County at 119° F.

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