“Oh, I think it’s pretty hot and humid and I think it makes us sticky and irritable and miserable,” said Cheryl McCray who was visiting Wichita from Illinois Thursday.
Wichita has seen close to a record number of hot days this summer with 11 100 degree days in June in alone.
The air capital city has seen hotter though, but you have to go back to 1980 or even further back to 1936.
Extreme heat and drought hit Wichita in the mid-1930’s when the dust bowl ripped through and destroyed crops.
August 12, 1936 saw the hottest day on record, 114 degrees, and Wichitans suffered through 20 days of 100 degree temperatures.
“Even then a midday break was not uncommon. It would become so hot it would be hard to become productive.” Eric Kale, Kansas Historical Society.
Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to have no air conditioning on these sweltering summer days, but in 1936, there were few places where people could go to feel the cool air.
“I could not live without air conditioning, I wonder how they did it back in the old days, you know,” said McCray.
Historians at the Sedgwick County Historical Museum say that people would boat on the river, put a fan to blow air over large ice blocks and open a series of windows to create a breeze through the house. But at night people would head to the water to get a little relief from the heat.
“They would go down and sleep by the river. It was very common for whole neighborhoods to come out at night and be camped along the river,” said Kale.
The heat wave of 1980 hit 100 degrees for 24 straight days in July and 11 days in August. This past Monday, Wichita officially broke the heat record for July 10 with 111 degree temperatures. With over 15 days before the start of August, Southeast Kansas is on track to have one of the hottest summers on record.
Photos courtesy the Sedgwick County Historical Museum and the Kansas Historical Society.