You think it's hot now? Here are the 5 worst SoCal heat waves

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63789 full

Think it's hot now?

On July 10, 1913, Death Valley reached a record-breaking 134 degrees, one of the hottest air temperatures ever recorded on the planet Earth.

But the desert isn't the only place in SoCal to suffer sweltering temps over the past century. 

Here's a list of record-breaking heat waves that will make you cringe — and actually appreciate our current temperatures. Will SoCal top these digits this September? We really hope not.


1. Downtown Los Angeles | 1955 | 110 degrees 

(Photo: Howard D. Kelly/Los Angeles Public Library)

According to the National Weather Service, the longest consecutive heat wave in Downtown Los Angeles lasted for eight days, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7 in 1955. 

At least most folks had newly installed air conditioning systems, which became popular in the '50s. Nearly 1 million units were purchased in 1953, just in time for DTLA's major heat wave. (Here's a brief history of the revolutionary invention that put the ceiling fan to shame.)

Below are the blazing temps from that 1955 summer, according to a NWS spokesperson: 

  • Aug. 31 | 101 degrees 
  • Sept. 1 | 110 degrees  
  • Sept. 2 |108 degrees 
  • Sept. 3 | 103 degrees 
  • Sept. 4 | 101 degrees 
  • Sept. 5 | 100 degrees 
  • Sept. 6 | 102 degrees 
  • Sept. 7 | 100 degrees 
  • Sept. 8 | 96 degrees

In recent heat wave news: On Sept. 27, 2010, Downtown L.A. reached a record high of 113 degrees. The heat wave lasted nearly three days, with an average of about 100 degrees. It was so hot that the thermometer broke, according to the L.A. Times.


2. Palm Springs | 1995 | 123 degrees 

Natives of Palm Springs are used to frying eggs on the sidewalk since it's always hot and humid. But temperatures reached above 115 degrees for four days during the '90s in the month of July. Not to mention, a 123-degree-record has been set FOUR times there — July 28 and 29, 1995; August 1993; and July 1979 — according to a forecaster from the National Weather Service. 

(Photo: moominsean/Flickr Creative Commons)


3. Burbank | 1971 | 113 degrees 

Located northwest of Downtown, the city of Burbank reached an all-time high of 113 degrees on Sept. 12, 1971. For nearly four days, the average was about 105 degrees. 

Here's the breakdown: 

  • Sept. 11 | 105 degrees 
  • Sept. 12 | 113 degrees 
  • Sept. 13 | 112 degrees
  • Sept. 14 | 109 degrees 
  • Sept. 15 | 94 degrees 

4. Riverside | 1925 | 118 degrees 

(Photo: Boston Public Library/Flickr)

A record temperature of 118 degrees was set on July 17, 1925. Miraculously, it had only reached 108 degrees the day before and 102 the day after. 

But Riverside's longest streak of high temps came in 1917 and 2007, when it reached 110 degrees from June 14 through June 17 and from Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, says a NWS forecaster. 


5. Woodland Hills | 2006 | 119 degrees 

(Gary Leonard/Los Angeles Public Library)

In the valley, the heat peaked at an all-time record of 119 degrees on July 22, 2006. Here's what NPR had to say about the heat wave: 

Temperatures like that, combined with unusually high humidity and very little night-time cooling, have left much of California feeling more like Texas. Statewide, at least 30 deaths have been linked to the heat over the past week and a half. 

These are the temps from Woodland Hills during that year:

  • July 21 | 113 degrees 
  • July 22 | 119 degrees 
  • July 23 | 112 degrees
  • July 24 | 108 degrees 
  • July 25 | 105 degrees 

What are you doing to stay cool during the heat wave? Tweet us pics and tips @KPCC using the hashtag #summerheat. 

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