top of page

Iowa History Daily: July 20 - Record High Temperature

Iowa History Daily: On July 20, 1934, Keokuk, Iowa, hit the state’s all-time high temperature when thermometers recorded 118° Fahrenheit. Although thrown into dispute by discrepancies in other area readings, the event commonly gains the distinction of Iowa’s hottest day historically.

As the sun rose on July 20, 1934, so did the temperatures. The highest measurement recorded in the Lee County town stood at 118.4 degrees in the shade. Another reading at the Federal Courthouse located at 7th and Blondeau also reached the 118 degree mark.

The record-setting heat wave baked the entire state, as the day prior Knoxville in Marion County recorded a temperature of 111° F to tie the previous high temperature mark in the state. An unofficial measurement in Clarinda also hit 111°, and Council Bluffs weather station marked down a high of 110°.

As the heat wave stretched out over Iowa, three people died from drowning while swimming to find some relief from the heat. Another man jumped from a moving bus, apparently deranged by the extreme temperatures. Crops wilted, and several Iowa cities experienced water shortages. The heat wave continued to ravage the Midwest over the following week with more than 40 attributed deaths statewide. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page