Discover the Most Searing Heatwave to Ever Hit Mecklenburg County

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: August 8, 2023
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Mecklenburg County in North Carolina is the most heavily populated county in the state, but it holds a few other records as well! Today, we are going to be taking a look at some extreme weather events in the county, specifically, the hottest temperature recorded in Mecklenburg County. Let’s discover the date, temperature, and some other interesting facts about this region.

The Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded in Mecklenburg County

Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, USA skyline

Charlotte is the largest city in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Mecklenburg County was a sweltering 104°F at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on June 29th, 2012.

North Carolina, especially the inland regions of the state, is known for its extreme heat and humidity. As it stands, the hottest day that Mecklenburg ever experienced was on June 29th, 2012, when a sensor recorded 104°F. While this may not seem all that extreme when compared to places like New Mexico, Arizona, or California, it’s important to remember that summer heat in North Carolina doesn’t just have the raw temperature associated with it, but the extreme humidity. When temperatures AND humidity climb, things can get hot, sticky, sweaty, and extremely dangerous. In fact, North Carolina was ranked the 9th most humid state by average humidity, behind West Virginia (8), Tennessee (7) and Arkansas (6).

What It May Have Felt Like On the Hottest Day in Mecklenburg County

In order to understand temperature when combined with humidity, there are some platforms out there that can give you a “heat index reference”, essentially telling you how it would have felt that day. Using the data we have in Mecklenburg, a temperature of 104°F, and the average humidity of the state, around 82%, we can calculate using the National Weather Service calculator that it would have felt like 184.6°F that day.

That isn’t just astonishing, it’s incredibly dangerous.

Other Extreme Weather Events in Mecklenburg County

Mount Mitchell North Carolina

The highest point in North Carolina is Mount Mitchell. As such, it holds a few records for extreme weather events.

©iStock.com/Frederik Flagstad

North Carolina has some rather granular data available on weather extremes, thanks to the North Carolina State Climate Office at NC State University. Using that portal, you can look at extreme weather occurrences by city, county, the entire state, and certain weather stations. Even more, you can filter it by the type of weather extremes over all times, months, or even days. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable weather extremes across Mecklenburg County and North Carolina as a whole.

Hottest Day

In Mecklenburg County, we’ve already looked at the hottest day and learned it was 104°F. In North Carolina as a whole, the record is 110°F in Fayetteville, located within Cumberland County. That record was set on August 21st, 1983.

Lowest Temperature

In Mecklenburg County, the lowest temperature ever recorded was -5°F on January 21st, 1985. Across the entire state, the lowest temperature ever recorded was on Mount Mitchell in Yancey County back in January 21st, 1985, and was -34°F. The large discrepancy here is due to the geography of the state, with high-elevation mountain regions to the west and the lower, more temperate regions (including Mecklenburg) to the east.

Highest Snowfall In a Day

In Mecklenburg County, the greatest one-day snowfall ever to ever occur was 12.1 inches on January 7th, 1988. In the same vein as the lowest temperature, Mount Mitchell also holds the record for the most snow in a day in North Carolina, totaling 36 inches on March 13th, 1993. Again, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak on the east coast and is prone to extreme weather.

Highest Rainfall In a Day

In Mecklenburg County, the most rain (precipitation) ever received was 5.17 inches on August 3rd, 1948. The highest rainfall ever recorded in the state was in Altapass, in Mitchell County, coming in with an incredible 22.22 inches, plenty enough for a flood.

The Impacts of Extreme Heat in Mecklenburg and North Carolina

Back burning. the rural fire brigade conducts controlled burning in cooler months to avoid big forest fires in the hot months of the year.

Forest fires are common when extended heat waves sweep across regions.

©Alf Manciagli/Shutterstock.com

Heat and extended periods of heat (heat waves) can be incredibly dangerous for people, especially when it begins to impact infrastructure. Currently, the rising average temperatures are causing more intense and prolonged heatwaves in most of the country, NC included.

As the NC Climate Education explains, the two most direct ways that people are harmed by the heat are due to heat stroke and dehydration.

Less directly, however, the heat has the potential to impact the infrastructure of the state and cause more acute problems. One of the clear issues is when a heat wave coincides with a drought, causing water issues with water supply, and even agriculture. A second issue is the problems associated with energy. When temperatures go up, more power is used, especially on things like AC. When the systems are stressed, things break down and nobody gets AC when people need it the most. When that happens, people are then directly impacted by dehydration and heat stroke.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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