U.S. Independence Day, smack-dab in the middle of summer, is often a hot day for most Americans. Many people head to the beach, mountains, pools and lakes to cool off and spend time cooking hamburger and hot dogs on the grill. What you might not realize is that July 4, 1776 was an unseasonably mild mid-summer day in usually hot and humid Philadelphia.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the country’s founding fathers and its third president, kept an extensive weather journal throughout his life. In his journal entry for July 4, 1776, he observed a 68 degree temperature at 6 a.m., 72 degree reading at 9 a.m. and a 76 degree reading at 1 p.m.
Another Philadelphian, Phineas Pemberton recorded similar temperatures as well as increasing afternoon clouds, a decreasing barometric pressure and a wind shift from the north to the southwest on that famous day. Compared to modern temperature records, the 1776 high temperature of about 76 degrees is nine degrees cooler than the 85 degree normal the city of Brotherly Love experiences. So when you think to colonial days, remember that our founding fathers had a nice day, weather wise, to declare the nation’s independence.
So what will your 4th be like this year?
The West‘s big heat wave will continue through the 4th of July holiday. Temperatures will easily exceed the century mark throughout the Southwest, southern Great Basin and California’s Interior Valleys. The heat, drought and increased fire risk will likely limit the amount of fireworks and outdoor grilling allowed.
It will be a great holiday to head to the pool, beach or lake to cool off for the rest of the U.S. west of the Mississippi River. Abundant July sunshine will push temperatures into the 90s across the rest of the Interior West, interior Northwest, Rockies, western High Plains and Texas. The immediate Pacific Coast of California, Oregon and Washington will be cooler, with 70s and low 80s prevalent. A few thunderstorms will pop-up across the Rockies.
From the Mississippi River eastward, it will be a totally different story. The booming sound heard in the afternoon won’t be fireworks, but thunderstorms. Afternoon thunderstorms popping up from Florida and the eastern Gulf Coast northward into New England will be norm, with frequent downpours possible from the eastern Gulf Coast into the eastern Great Lakes. Most places along the Atlantic Seaboard east of the Appalachians won’t have a wash-out but storms will definitely send people at parks, beaches and in the backyard scurrying for cover. High temperatures will be in the 80s to low 90s, with high humidity making it feel quite uncomfortable for the post-dusk fireworks.
The coolest place to celebrate Independence Day will be the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes, where temperatures in the upper 70s will make it a great day to be outside. However, a pop-up afternoon thunderstorm is still possible.
If you’re in charge of the BBQ, here’s a list of items you’ll want to have on-hand to be grill-tastic!:
- A sturdy table that you can use for food preparation and to put out the spread
- Citronella candles or other bug repellants to keep mosquitos and other flying beast at bay
- An extra propane tank (if cooking with gas)
- A food thermometer
- Brushes for spreading barbecue sauce
- Oven mitts
- At least two gallons of water for cleanup
- Trash can with seal lid to keep bugs out
- If cooking with charcoal, a chimney starter so you can avoid using lighter fluid (this will improve food flavor)
You’ll also want to reference WeatherBug’s Barbecue Forecast to find out the best time to start grilling!
Have a fun and safe 4th of July!