Heat wave history: 2012 not the worst, yet

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE / CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisc. (WEAU) - Temperatures reached the 90s again Tuesday and farmers are still waiting for rain as crops continue to dry up.

Despite seeing record heat and a drought, historians said things aren't like they used to be.

Frank Smoot with the Chippewa Valley Museum said this weather doesn't yet compare to the drought of 1936.

"It wasn't just uncomfortable, people were suffering, animals were dying," Smoot said. "People were canning weeds because they were worried they wouldn't have anything to eat in the winter. Those were hard times."

"We were much less prepared back then. Having good water in people's homes was not common. Cows are more comfortable and people are too. As we set records, we're better prepared to handle them."

According to the National Climatic Data Center, Wisconsin had a record low precipitation in July of 1936 at 1.03 inches, about 3 inches below average. Total precipitation from July 1 to July 16 was .86 inches.

But longtime farmer Allard Peck of Chippewa Falls said in many ways, the heat is more damaging now than in years past.

"We had smaller farms. Now everyone has 1,500 acres or more, so when you lose, you lose a lot. When you lost then, you just lost feed for three to four months," he said.

"You never thought about the heat. Either you had work to do, and you were out and you done it, and you didn't think about the heat," he said.

Peck said the worst summer conditions he'd seen were in 1958, but without rain, this year could be almost as bad.

"Everything was dried up to nothing ... If we don't get any rain now for another month, then that will be the critical time for the corn crop and bean crop.

Although he now sits comfortably in his air conditioned home, Peck said the AC can make outdoor work more difficult.

"If it was hot inside, it wouldn't seem so hot outside," he said. "But it makes us more comfortable, so maybe we're easier to live with."

Peck said back in the 1950s, with less cooling technology and resources, the heat would be much more damaging to milk production, and their only way to beat the heat was to drink extra water.


The comment sections of our web set are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from the viewers but we are not obligated to post comments we feel inappropriate or violate our guidelines. Here are some of the criteria you should follow when posting comments:

Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. Children and families visit this site. We will delete comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.

We will delete all comments using hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our web site.

Comments should not attack other readers personally.

We will delete comments we deem offensive, in bad taste, or out of bounds. We are not obligated to post comments that are rude or insensitive.

We do not edit user-submitted comments.

As a host WEAU 13 News welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However, we have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason WEAU 13 News reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.
powered by Disqus
WEAU 13 NEWS 1907 S. Hastings Way Eau Claire, WI 54701 By Phone: Main Number (715) 835-1313 and (715) 832-3474. Tip Line (715) 839-WEAU - (715) 839-9328 Sports Line (715) 852-1537
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 162800716 - weau.com/a?a=162800716
Gray Television, Inc.