So you think this is hot? Try Yuma, Arizona in 1950!

I remember like it was yesterday, my mom pulling into the driveway at the ranch house. She was in the 1949 Ford Two-door that my Dad bought just after we moved to Yuma, Arizona. “It is going to be 127 degrees, get in the car I am taking you to the swimming pool,” she all but shouted at me. There was a bit of a panic in her voice.

Yuma, Arizona in 1950 was a dusty little desert town nestled on the edge of the Sonoran Desert. The Colorado River provided irrigation water for the ranches of the Yuma Valley. Yuma was well known for the infamous Yuma Territorial Prison, great winter vegetable crops and being hot and hell all summer long. The three of us in the Tester family were part of a population of no more than 5,000 hardy souls that called Yuma home.

When we moved to Yuma there was no home air conditioning. We relied on evaporative coolers that only worked as long as the humidity did not set in. The months of July, August and September were absolutely awful when the humidity rolled in from the Gulf of California. The slight drop in temperature reading brought no relief.

My mother claimed till the day she passed on that she cried every day of the first two months we lived on the Ranch, that was August and September of 1949.

I did get to the City pool and hung out there all day. That night my Dad had rented a room at the only motel that had what was called “refrigeration.” Several large slatted wooden towers loomed behind the El Rancho Motel. Inside the tower water was sprayed on copper coils that cooled air ducted into rooms. It was crude but that night effective.

We were not alone at the El Rancho. Other families, friends had checked in. I remember staying for several days. The pool was great! All my buddies where there.

I have researched the 127-degree story. I appears that the 127 degrees number that has stuck with me for all these years was somewhat off the mark but the day or at least the month for what is still a record setting Yuma temperature is right on the money. According to the Current Results Nexus, the record high temperature in Yuma, Arizona is 123 degrees set in September of 1950. That would be just about right because I had started school and I think the record setter was on a Saturday.

Right now outside my home here in Miami our digital thermometer is reading 93 degrees, I am told the “feels like temperature” is about 98 degrees, the outside temperature indicator on my wife car says 107! The humidity is around 60% which gives you that dry crackling feel that really makes this South Florida heat wave the real deal. Feels like home!

Of course locals here always say that the high temperatures out west are easier to take because the humidity is so low really do not get it. Folks, as a person who lived out that way for 50 years I can tell you that any time it gets over 107 degrees it is nothing but stupid. It is just awful hot, no breeze, and the blast of heat when you walk out of a house or office will actually send chills up and down your body.

What’s the temperature in Yuma as I write? It is predicted to be 102 with clouds and a 20% chance of rain that will never happen, that means humidity and that’s nasty. Be glad you here and by the way there is no beach in Yuma.


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