Headlines on Saturday, July 12, 1980 focused on the Iranian hostage crisis, which was in its 292nd day. One of the hostages had been released by the Ayatollah for “humanitarian reasons”. The GOP was putting the finishing touches on its platform prior to their national convention in Detroit.
There were fears that Mt. Hood in Oregon was getting ready to erupt, a la Mount St. Helens, since quakes had been shaking the area. A hijacker in Seattle had been given $100,000 and a parachute as he seemed destined to be the next D.B. Cooper. The economy was in the tank, with talk that the extended recession was comparable to the Great Depression in many ways.
The movies that were playing then included The Shining and Airplane.
But the big news across the southern United States was the heat. Birmingham was in the middle of a thirteen day heat wave, with temperatures 90F or higher for those thirteen days. The mercury reached at least 100F on eight consecutive days. The high temperature at the Birmingham Airport topped out at 104F on that Saturday, the hottest it had been so far in the hot spell. The next day would see 106F, the hottest of the heat wave.
Air conditioning repair companies were doing a land office business. Bank managers resorted to putting blocks of ice in front of electric fans to “cool off the girls” in the drive-thrus. The local Coca-Cola bottler reported that soft drink sales were up 35 percent.
The weather page in the Birmingham News wistfully noted that it was midwinter in Australia.
The toll was beginning to rise across Alabama. At least four deaths had been reported so far. Before it was over, at least 120 Alabamians lost their lives to heat related illnesses. 200,000 chickens also succumbed to the extreme heat.
The June-September 1980 Heat Wave is the first billion dollar weather-related disaster in U.S. history. Damage to agriculture and related industries was estimated at $20 billion. The sweltering weather claimed the lives of over 10,000 Americans.
An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.
An upper ridge will mean hot and mostly dry weather for Central Alabama today and Sunday; highs will be in the 92 to 95 degree range with hazy sunshine. A few afternoon showers or storms will fire up in afternoon heat, but they should be few and far between.
The ridge moves west into early next week, and models continue to develop a strong, long wave upper trough for mid-summer over the eastern half of the nation. Afternoon showers and storms are possible Monday, with showers and storms to become likely Tuesday in advance of a cold front pushing into the Southeast from the north. Nice to see fairly good agreement between the GFS and the European which adds to the overall confidence in seeing a mid-July cold front make it into the region.
Much like July 4th and 5th, I expect to see some dry, continental air invade Alabama Wednesday through Friday with lower humidity and cooler nights. As James noted yesterday, we might make a run at record lows early Thursday morning with temperatures reaching the 58-62 degree range. Highs over the latter half of the week will be in the 80s with low humidity levels. Lowered humidity is always refreshing for July.
Moisture levels come back Friday and into next weekend returning showers to the forecast.
For those headed to the beach, look for 7 to 9 hours of sunshine along the Alabama Gulf Coast through Monday with only widely scattered storms. Highs on the immediate coast will be in the upper 80s, and sea water temperatures are mostly in the lower and mid 80s. Showers and thunderstorms will be more likely along the coast by Tuesday.
Voodoo country features the 594 heat bubble over the western half of the US with a long wave trough situated over the East Coast. This pattern would bring a northwesterly flow to the Middle Mississippi River Valley, so will always have to be anxious about the development of long-lived MCCs – Mesoscale Convection Complexes – coming out of the Central US.
And you can follow news and weather updates from ABC 33/40 on Twitter here. Stay in the know by following the whole gang – here’s the list…
I anticipate posting the next Weather Xtreme Video by 7:30 or 8 Sunday morning. Stay cool and Godspeed.
The ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is a detailed weather discussion for Alabama and the Southeast U.S. which goes beyond the normal stuff you see on TV! From... From: abc3340 Views: 216 3 ratings Time: 06:18 More in News & Politics