The Dust Bowl dryness of the 1930's is known as one of the worst weather disasters to hit the United States. Although conditions were much worse in the plains states, Michigan was not spared by this dry spell. Three of the five driest years ever recorded in Flint, Saginaw, and Detroit were recorded in the 1930's, with 1930, 33, 34, 36, and 39 being especially dry. In fact, the driest year ever recorded in Michigan history occurred in 1936, with Croswell in Sanilac County recording just 15.64 inches. This dryness caused great distress among farmers, adding an extra strain to people already suffering through the Great Depression.
Heat Wave of 1936
The period from July 8 – July 14, 1936 is likely the most severe heat wave ever experienced in Michigan, and one of the worst ever recorded in US history. Before this outbreak of heat, the National Weather Service had recorded just 7 days that Detroit had ever reached 100 degrees. That number doubled in just one week, as all 7 days from the 8th through 14th saw 100 degree temperatures. The high temperatures recorded in Detroit were 104,102,102,101,100,102,104. The 104.4 degrees recorded was the second highest temperature ever recorded in Detroit. Perhaps the worst day of all was the 10th, which saw a high of 102 and a low of 77, giving a mean temperature of 90. The weather was even hotter in Saginaw, which saw high temperatures of 104,104,105,107,107,107,111 (the hottest ever recorded). During this outbreak, Mio recorded a temperature of 112, which still stands as the highest temperature ever recorded in Michigan. Aside from doing damage to the record books, this outbreak caused great loss of life. In Detroit alone, 364 people died of the heat, with the elderly and infants being most susceptible to the heat. 570 people died across the state, and 5000 perished nationally from this severe heat wave.