The summer of 2022 has been marked by heat waves rippling across the planet. Temperatures have handily topped 100º F (38º C) in cities across the globe with some of the most extreme and dangerously high temperatures striking India and Pakistan earlier this year.
Sweltering heat has also baked major cities in Western Europe and the United States, including record-breaking high temps in several Southern California cities at the start of the year. Large U.S. cities including Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, have all expected multiple days above 90º F, with humidity high enough to interrupt the body’s natural ability to shed heat through sweating. (These are the hottest places in the U.S. right now.)
The heat waves can be a reminder of global warming, but climatologists warn against judging climate change by individual weather events. Just as a snowstorm isn’t evidence against global warming, heat waves can occur with or without global warming’s influence.
To identify the hottest day in history in every state, 247 Wall St. reviewed the latest records compiled by the State Climate Extremes Committee, a panel responsible for monitoring observations that may exceed all-time records for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
The planet is indeed getting warmer over time and human development is to blame, but the hottest summers on record in the United States took place in the 1930s, amid the massive drought of the Dust Bowl that struck in the middle of the Great Depression, sending Okies packing to California farmland, inspiring John Steinbeck to write “The Grapes of Wrath.”
Twenty-four U.S. states still have high-temperature records dating back to that era. Thirteen of those records originate from a massive heat wave in 1936. Nine states still have heat records dating back to 1926 or earlier. In 1913, Greenland Ranch, California (since renamed, appropriately, Furnace Creek Ranch) registered a mind-melting 134º F, the highest verified temperature ever recorded anywhere in the world. (These are the hottest places in the world right now.)
South Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are the only states that have broken heat records so far in this century, from 113º F in South Carolina in 2012 to 120º F in Washington last year.