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Look Back:  Heat wave of 1954

July 14,1954--A massive buckling of College Avenue and Emily Street, caused by heat, draws the sweating curious on July 14. Post-Dispatch photo

On July 14, 1954, temperatures in St. Louis soared to where they had never been before - hitting a high of 115 degrees - a record that has never been approached since.

By 6 a.m. the next day, brisk winds from Canada had dropped the temperature to 76 degrees. By that time, the weeklong heat wave had already taken 104 lives in the city.

July 14 was also a milestone day for other St. Louis heat waves.

1936:  On July 14, the temperature hit a summer peak of 108, the 10th highest day in St. Louis history. The heat of July 1936 had been withering and deadly. It had killed 332 people by July 30, when cooling breezes soothed raw, sweating faces. 

1980: With 24 heatstroke deaths in St. Louis in a 24-hour period, Governor Joe Teasdale ordered a state of emergency on July 14. Temperatures on July 8 hit 101 and would break 100 degrees on a withering nine of the next 14 days and reach 107 on July 15, the summer's worst. It would be 100 or hotter on 18 days that long, searing summer. 

2012: By July 14, forecast temperatures were forecast for "only" 97 degrees. Just a week earlier, the city had endured a 10-day run of triple-digit temperatures.

For the record: the 10 hottest days in St. Louis history:

  • July 14, 1954: 115 degrees.
  • July 18, 1954: 112 degrees.
  • July 24, 1934: 111 degrees.
  • July 12, 1954: 110 degrees.
  • August 9, 1934: 110 degrees.
  • July 20, 1934: 110 degrees.
  • July 22, 2017: 108 degrees.
  • July 25, 2012: 108 degrees.
  • June 28, 2012: 108 degrees.
  • July 14, 1936: 108 degrees.