Westside Eagle-Observer

It was a hot old day!

- By Dodie Evans Dodie Evans is the former owner and longtime editor of the Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

It was a hot day 86 years ago in what is now Eagle Observer country when the temperatur­e reached a record high of 114 on July 19, 1936. During much of the month of July this year, it seemed to feel like that much or more, but the temp only reached 109 degrees. After Mother Nature turned off the hose which wet down the area with almost an inch of rain on the third of July we got to enjoy 17 hundred days with hardly a cloud in the sky until … the grass browned, the tomatoes just wouldn’t set on and the air conditione­r kept whirring almost … well, almost to the end of the month when she (that’s MN) turned on the tap for five days and over five inches of that stuff that turned the grass green and the tomatoes … we’ll see.

So there were no 114-degree temperatur­es in July this year, but 114 degrees were registered here a few years ago, just not in July.

Looking back through weather records dating back from 1926 ‘till now revealed very few months of July when 114 even came close. The last ‘cuff indicated there would be a roundup of the month. It was a wait until those five wet days passed before the looking took place. There were several hot and dry Julys and also other summer months that gripped the nation, but it was 1936 that hit the nail on the head; July 19, 1936, was in the middle of the dust bowl and depression days. There were 23 days the temp hit in the hundreds, 114 on the nineteenth, and only 0.03 of moisture was recorded. Following are five of the hottest, driest July months since that July day. For many years, July seems hot and dry, but it is surprising how many Julys are cool or moist or sometimes even both.

* July 1954 saw 18 hundred days with a hot 113 degrees on July 13. Moisture for the month totaled 0.55 inches.

* July 1980 had 17 hundreds with the hottest being just 108 degrees on the 17th and 31st. Precip was just 0.55 inches.

* July 2011 saw 24 hundreds but 106 degrees was the highest, on July 30, and moisture totaled 1.58 inches.

* July 2012, just ten years ago, almost experience­d 24 hundred days with the hottest being 111 degrees. Moisture totaled 0.30 inches.

* Here comes this year, July 2022. There were 18 days in the hundreds and the temp hit 109 on July 30. Moisture totaled 5.75 inches which included the near inch on the third and the rest on the final five days.

* It was mentioned that the 114-degree temp had been tied. When was that? It occurred in August 2011 which saw 15 hundreds, 114 on August 3, and a total of moisture 3.85 inches spread through the month.

The month of June sometimes has a few hundred days, and its moisture together can affect how July follows. And hot days can follow in August, along with scattered rainfall at best that has occurred down through the years. There has even been September, with its final days of summer, holding an occasional hundred-er and rainfall is unpredicta­ble. Comparing weather statistics can be interestin­g and unpredicta­ble, as the tube weather people have to deal with continuall­y.

As an example, since 2000, thirteen of the July years saw no — not a single — hundred-degree day. The climate factor is being touted as extremely … well, you know what I mean.

What was called the Weather Bureau originally was under the U.S. Department of Agricultur­e, but sometime in the 1940s it became a part of the Department of Commerce where it remains as the National Oceanic and Atmospheri­c Administra­tion, National Weather Service, NOAA.

Six people have operated the service in or near Gravette. A.F. Stevens lived southeast of Gravette near what was then Pond post office until it became part of the Gravette post office. Mr. Stevens died in 1933 and his wife Vera signed his last monthly record. The Schmidt family who lived in southwest Gravette took over the operation in 1935 with son Max W. Schmidt signing reports. He was followed by father Julius Schmidt, who began the “job” in 1942 and he turned it over to son Elson Schmidt in 1949. The thermomete­r house and rain cylinder were moved to the yard of Glenn Justice near uptown Gravette in 1959, where it remained until his death in 1978 when the little “house” and cylinder were moved to a yard in northeast Gravette where it remains today and where the old ‘cuffer heads out to read the daily 24-hour report at about six every evening. That sometimes makes it hard to separate completely true daily temperatur­e and precipitat­ion; however, precipitat­ion is marked on a 24hour diagram.

The hardest part is having to shovel a nice deep snow to reach that little thermomete­r house and then take the inner cylinder out of the outer cylinder into the house to melt the stuff so it can be measured in true moisture.

There, you have a ‘cuff that I have partly written about several times … and what is fun, sometimes … is to take the informatio­n to town and compare it to the readings of others — it can vary, quite often within a few blocks. What is really startling is how the weather, particular­ly the rain or sleet or snowfall, varies between Gravette and Decatur and Gentry. Fortunatel­y, though, there have been times when damage from storms hurts in different spots. That is the time when all of the areas can and have come together to assist and make things better.

Weather remains one of the great conversati­onal plusses that beats political arguments … whatever they are.

‘Till next time?

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