1980 US Heat Wave

1980 US Heat Wave

June-September 1980:

Beginning in June and stretching until mid-September, the 1980 US Heat Wave was a period of intense heat and drought that plagued the central and eastern United States. Many states suffered through record-breaking heat, with Memphis, TN experiencing a 15-day stretch of temperatures over 100°F. Crops were damaged in the heat and livestock stressed, and it is among the most devastating natural disasters in terms of deaths and destruction in U.S. history. —(NOAA)

Date of event: 


  • Estimated 10,000 direct and indirect heat-related fatalities
  • Approximately $20 billion in agricultural damage  (1980 USD) ($59 billion in 2017 USD)

Related Resources:

HSDL Featured Topic: Climate Change

HSDL Search: Severe Drought

In Focus: (NOAA) Map of drought conditions in the contiguous U.S. in July 1980

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