Summer officially begins next week, but the summer heat is already here. Recent days have seen the thermometer top out in the 90s with heat indexes rising above 100 degrees. As hot as it seems, the recent run of hot days doesn’t hold a candle to the heat wave of 1980.
In the summer of 1980, an intense heat wave that lasted most of the summer and claimed hundreds of lives broiled much of the central United States. In downtown Kansas City, starting on July 4th, the temperature topped out above 100 degrees for 17 days in a row. That was the longest string of consecutive days above 100, but there were several more days that summer that topped the century mark.
The scorching heat was brutal on the poor and elderly. Many residents didn’t have air conditioners or couldn’t afford to run them if they did. Sadly, in homes in areas with high crime rates, some of the people found dead in their homes from the heat had nailed their windows shut to protect themselves and their property.