We’ve all heard old folks tell us tales about how the weather in K.C. was when they were young.  Don’t write these off as folklore too quickly.  We had some really extreme weather in the old days. 


The 1936 Heat Wave


The record high temperature for Kansas City was set on August 14, 1936, when it reached 113 degrees.  This also set the record for the highest single daily average in history at 113+86/2 = 99.5 (rounded off to 100 degrees). 

This wasn’t merely a one day fluke either.  That summer there were 53 days with high temperatures of 100 degrees or more.

Let’s also keep in mind the fact that there was no residential AC back then.  And even if there had been, you wouldn’t have been that cool in your house anyway.  Here’s why:


We typically size our residential AC systems for “design conditions”.  The summer design condition for Kansas City is 96 degrees.  The 96 degree design temperature represents the warmest outside temp we typically see in Kansas City 97.5% of the time during the cooling season.  This is based on average historical temperature values over many years.  So this basically means that if your AC system is properly sized, it will only be able to maintain 75 degrees inside your house when the outside temperature is 96 degrees or less, which occurs about 97.5% of the time.  The system will lose ground at outdoor temperatures exceeding 96 degrees (it won’t be able to maintain 75 degrees inside the house.)    So if the outdoor temp reached 113 degrees, it’s exceeded the design temp by 113-96 = 17 degrees.  So the house will more than likely be at least 17 degrees warmer than 75 degrees (75+17 = 92 degrees).  But if you had an AC system big enough to keep your house at 75 degrees on a 113 degree day, it wouldn’t work very well on normal summer days, because it wouldn’t run long enough to remove much humidity, and it would cycle too frequently, and the power consumption over time would be greater.


I can see how some old folks who recall the summer of 1936 might tend to scoff at claims of global warming today. 



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