National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Intense heat overspread Iowa on July 12, 1995, and lasted well into the evening of July 14th.  Dew point temperatures ranged from the upper 70s to the middle 80s through much of the time.  The highest dew point readings were over the east half of the state.  Winds remained light through the period and were generally less than 10 mph.  High temperatures during the period were generally in the 98°F to 108°F range.  The highest known temperature was 109°F in the Council Bluffs area.  Most of the west half of the state broke the century mark on the 13th, and nearly every station by the 14th. Overnight low temperatures struggled to reach the middle 70s, with some areas remaining around 80°F.  The highest heat indices were in the east half of Iowa, where the higher dew point temperatures were.  The highest reading came from Cedar Rapids, IA on the 13th, with a heat index of 131°F by late afternoon.

Three people died from the heat in Iowa, one in Des Moines, one in Marshalltown, and a third in Burlington.  A 95 year old woman died in her home when the temperature in the house climbed above the 110°F mark.  She had no air conditioning or fans and the windows were closed.  In Marshalltown, a 71-year-old man died in his unairconditioned home.  In a similar way, a 37-year-old man died in his un-airconditioned apartment in downtown Burlington on the 13th. 

A significant loss also occurred in livestock during the heat wave.  Statewide figures indicate the losses approaching the $5-$6 million range.  Losses were placed at 4,000 head of cattle, 370 hogs, 1,250,000 chickens, and 250,000 turkeys.  On one Webster County farm alone 250,000 laying hens perished on the 2nd day of the heat.  Another egg producer had 1.5 million laying hens on two farms, one in Winterset, the other in Guthrie Center.  They reported a loss of at least 500,000 hens.  Disposal became a serious problem as rendering plants were overwhelmed.

In addition to problems caused to humans and livestock, there were numerous heat buckles reported on streets and highways around the state.  Early indications were there was little in the way of crop damage.  The combination of light winds and extremely high dew point temperatures helped keep the crops from stressing too much.  Heavy dew would form overnight that would last well into the early afternoon hours.

During the month of July, approximately 70 daily maximum temperature records were set at locations from the central and northern Great Plains to the Atlantic coast.



Table 1: High temperatures in Iowa from July 12, 1995 to July 15, 1995


Burlington, IA

Cedar Rapids, IA

Dubuque, IA

Iowa City, IA























Table 2: Low temperatures in Iowa from July 12, 1995 to July 15, 1995
Data Burlington, IA Cedar Rapids, IA Dubuque, IA Iowa City, IA
12 75 73 71 75
13 78 78 75 77
14 78 79 76 80
15 74 73 70 78



 Information about heat hazards and safety can be found here.