The Hottest November Heatwave to Ever Hit Pennsylvania

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Published: November 22, 2023
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November in Pennsylvania is generally moderate and pleasant. For example, temperatures in the city of Philadelphia typically fall somewhere between a high of 72°F (22°C) and a low of 25°F (-4°C). However, there are exceptions to this rule. The hottest November heatwave in Pennsylvania occurred in 1961 and brought temperatures that more rightly belong in July. Read on to discover Pennsylvania’s record-breaking November temperature and other weather extremes in the state.

The Hottest November Heatwave in Pennsylvania

Heat wave sign on the city. Heat wave concept

The hottest November heatwave in Pennsylvania brought a high of 88°F to Washington County.


The hottest November heatwave in Pennsylvania occurred on November 3, 1961. On this date, temperatures in Claysville, a borough in Washington County, soared to 88°F (31.1°C). Official state records go back to 1888, although a few stations have records going back even further. For reference, the hottest temperature on record in Pennsylvania at any time of year occurred on July 9th and 10th, 1936. On these dates, temperatures reached 111°F (43.9°C) in Phoenixville, Chester County.

Pennsylvania has also seen extremes on the other end of the scale. The state’s coldest November temperature on record occurred on November 29, 1930. On this date, the borough of Somerset in Somerset County saw a temperature low of -15°F (-26.1°C). The coldest temperature ever recorded in Pennsylvania was -42°F (-41.1°C) on January 5, 1904 in Smethport, McKean County.

Deaths or Injuries During the Hottest November Heatwave in Pennsylvania

Tired annoyed senior woman holding waving fan feel hot sit on sofa at home without air conditioner, overheated exhausted old elder grandma sweating suffer from hormone problem summer heat concept

People most at risk for heat-related illnesses and death are seniors and young children.


In the United States, heat-related deaths are on the uptick, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting over 1,700 fatalities throughout the country in 2022. An average of 700 people die every year in the nation from heat-related causes. Although there are no records of deaths related to the November 1961 heatwave in Pennsylvania, other heatwaves in the state have proved to be deadly. For example, the “Dust Bowl” heatwave of July 1936, which produced Pennsylvania’s record high, killed approximately 5,000 people nationally.

How Do People Die from Extreme Heat?

Death from extreme heat is called hyperthermia, the opposite of hypothermia (death from extreme cold). Hyperthermia causes the body to overheat to the point that it creates more heat than it can release. This results in heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Symptoms are most severe for people over the age of 65 and under the age of four.

Common symptoms of heat-related illnesses include:

  • Increased breathing and heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting

Environmental Impact of Heatwaves

A golden wheat field in Havre, Montana.

Environmental impacts of heatwaves include droughts, which damage crops and cause water scarcity.

©Jack Lambert/

The environmental impact of extreme heat waves is enormous. One of the most common consequences is drought, a severe lack of precipitation. The resulting water scarcity and crop failure can be deadly and cause lasting harm to the environment and the economy. In addition to this, wildfires typically increase during a drought due to the dry conditions. Even air quality is impacted as the air stagnates and fails to diffuse pollutants.

What to Do in Extreme Heat

Man with hyperhidrosis sweating very badly under armpit in blue shirt because of hot weather. Travelling in asia thailand with backpacker. The man is pulling at his shirt, as if to fan himself with it. The shirt is visibly wet with sweat. The man is tanned. He is standing in a field. All that is visible is his chin and torso.

During a heatwave, hydrate, avoid unnecessary exertion, and wear light, loose clothing.


There are several things people can do to alleviate the effects of extreme heat. These include:

  • Staying out of direct sunlight or enclosed spaces that are likely to get hot
  • Taking shelter in air-conditioned buildings
  • Avoiding strenuous or unnecessary physical activity
  • Working during the cooler parts of the day
  • Hydrating amply with water, broth, or sports drinks
  • Swimming in cool water
  • Wearing light, loose garments
  • Wearing a broad-rimmed hat

Never leave children or pets alone in a hot car during a heatwave. The temperature in such a small, confined space can easily turn deadly in minutes.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ed Connor/

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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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