WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Summer heat isn’t a foreign concept to residents of Wichita Falls, but even for those who have called the area home for decades, triple-digit temperatures are something that Wichitans never appear to get used to.
Chief Meteorologist Michael Bohling said on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, that Wichita Falls saw 13 consecutive days with a high in the triple digits, the longest such streak in over a decade.
The 7-day forecast shows no relief in sight, so it seems triple-digit dry heat is what’s in store for Wichitans this summer.
So, the question on everyone’s mind as we enter into what is historically the hottest part of the summer in North Texas… Is the summer of 2022 going to be the hottest summer in the history of Wichita Falls?
It may feel like that when you walk outside, thanks in large part to the more mild summers of the past few years. In 2021, Wichita Falls saw only six days with triple-digit heat all year.
Then again, Wichita Falls is notorious for its extreme weather. Also in 2021, Wichita Falls saw near-record low temperatures and snowfall, and set a new record for the lowest daily high temperature, never breaking into the single digits.
So, while it’s not exactly crazy to think the summer of 2022 might be one for the record books, two summers in Wichita Falls history stand out as the most extreme.
Those who have called Wichita Falls home for all or most of their lives will remember these well.
Summer of 1980
The summer heat wave of 1980 set records all over the state of Texas, including Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston all establishing new record high temperatures that haven’t been touched since 1980.
Wichita Falls saw the second highest temperature ever recorded in the state, with only Seymour’s report of 120 degrees in 1936 and Monahans report of 120 degrees in 1994 topping it.
On June 28, 1980, Wichita Falls set a new record high for the third time in four days. Before 1980, the standing record high temperature was 113 degrees, reported in August 1964.
June 25, 1980, was 114 degrees, and the following day, June 26, hit 113 degrees, matching the previous record high. On June 27, 1980, it was 116 degrees. June 25’s new record high only stood for 2 days, but June 27’s record lasted only a single day.
On June 28, 1980, Wichita Falls reported a high of 117 degrees.
This fell in the middle of a ten-day span from June 24 to July 3 with temperatures at 110 degrees or above.
As it turns out, of the top 10 hottest days in Wichita Falls history, seven of them occurred during the summer of 1980. By the time double-digits returned to the area, Wichita Falls had seen 79 days of temperatures in the triple digits.
That record stood for 31 years until a more recent summer heat wave set a record that will perhaps never be broken.
Summer of 2011
The summer heat wave of 2011 will perhaps never be topped in terms of its impact on the city of Wichita Falls largely due to the extreme drought conditions that accompanied the blistering heat.
The temperature in Wichita Falls reached 100 degrees or higher for a total of 100 days, beating the record for most days with triple-digit heat set in 1980.
The first 100-degree day came on April 6, 2011, much earlier than Wichitans are used to seeing triple-digit heat. In April and May combined, there were 7 days with triple-digit high temperatures. So, before summer even officially began, there were more 100-degree days in 2011 than the entire summer of 2021.
During the months of June, July, and August in 2011, the high temperature was below 100 degrees for a total of four days; June 1, June 20, August 13, and August 14.
From June 20 to August 12, a record 52 consecutive days saw highs above 100 degrees. There wasn’t a single day in July with sub-100-degree high temperatures.
In fact, the only thing keeping 2011 from being the outright worst summer in Wichita Falls history is the fact that temperatures didn’t climb as high.
The summer of 2011 had more total days over 110 degrees (12, versus 11 in 1980), more total days over 105 degrees (66, versus 41 in 1980), and set more single-day high-temperature records (25, versus 16 in 1980).
On top of the heat that never seemed to go away, Wichita Falls was in the midst of the worst drought conditions the area had ever seen. Area lakes crept to dangerously low levels after Wichita Falls saw under 13 total inches of rain for the year, the lowest total rainfall on record.
Suffice it to say, if the summer of 2022 is going to be one for the record books, it has quite a way to go.