July is the peak month of the summer season. The typical high temperature warms from 82.6° on the 1st, to a peak of 83° from the 10th to the 13th and cools down to 82.0° by the 31st. Low temperatures have the same trend. The low starts at 61.3°, warms to 62.5° from the 21st to the 25th and cools to 62.4° by the end of the month.
July is the month with the most recorded days having temperatures at or above 100°. By my count, in the last 120 years Grand Rapids has hit the century mark on 33 days with 26 of them in July. A dozen of the hottest days are during the dust bowl of the 1930s, including the hottest 108° on July 13, 1936. The last time Grand Rapids hit the century mark was during the heat wave of 2012 when the temperature soared to 104° on July 6th.
While 1992 was the wettest month with 8.83” of precipitation, 1894 was the driest with only 0.25”.
Now that we’re past the summer solstice the amount of daylight we can observe decreases by 45 minutes in July. Despite the loss of available sunshine, the percent of possible sunshine increases; July is the sunniest month with 65% of possible sunshine.
See the slideshow on the top for more July weather averages and records.
There are many interesting weather events for July, mostly revolving around severe thunderstorms and their destructive forces. I’ll highlight a few of the notable events from the National Weather Service Archives. To see the complete list, ‘Subscribe’ to the Grand Rapids Weather Examiner for a daily email of historical events. You can also follow the Grand Rapids Weather Examiner on Twitter and connect with the Grand Rapids Weather Examiner on Facebook
7/1/2009 – The coolest July in Grand Rapids history begins with a record cool high of only 64 degrees as clouds and scattered showers prevail.
7/4/1911 – The phrase Hot as the Fourth of July gains new meaning as temperatures soar to near 100 degrees, for Michigan’s hottest Independence Day on record.
7/5/1994 – Thunderstorms with hail and heavy rain pound areas of West Michigan. The 3.56 inches of rain at Grand Rapids makes this the wettest July day on record.
7/8/1936 – The greatest heat wave on record gets underway across Michigan. Grand Rapids will see high temperatures at or above 100 degrees on six of the next seven days, including an all-time record high of 108 degrees on the 13th. Lansing will peak at 101 degrees on the 14th.
7/13/1936 – The Dust Bowl summer of 1936 produces the hottest day on record across the state of Michigan. Grand Rapids hits 108 degrees, its highest temperature ever, with Mio, Michigan setting the state record of 112 degrees. At Grand Rapids, six out of the seven days from July 8th to July 14th were above 100 degrees.
7/16/1986 – A plane carrying executives from Holland to Muskegon crashed while landing in heavy fog. The pilot had descended below approach minimums and the plane struck two trees about two miles short of the runway. Three people were killed, including the pilot. Three others were injured.
7/18/1952 – Thunderstorms with heavy downpours resulted in flooding of basements and some streets across West Michigan.
7/19/2009 – Cool and unstable air over Lake Michigan spawns at least two waterspouts. One of the waterspouts moves inland near Holland, just north of Lake Macatawa, but quickly dissipates and causes no damage.
7/20/1954 – Severe thunderstorms produced golf ball-sized hail and damaging winds across West Michigan. In Kent, Ionia and Montcalm Counties, dozens of trees were felled and some crops were wiped out by the hail and high winds.
7/21/1934 – A brutal heat wave peaks during the Dust Bowl summer with a high of 104 degrees at Grand Rapids, second only to the 106 and 108 degree readings from July 1936. Temperatures reach the mid and upper 90s even right along the Lake Michigan shore.
7/25/1943 – The USS Muskegon, named after the Michigan city, is launched from Superior, Wisconsin on a day with scattered showers and high temperature of 86 degrees at Muskegon, Michigan. The ship saw duty in World War Two, escorting convoys across the Atlantic. The ship also took weather observations and served as as radio and light ship for trans-atlantic flights until after the end of the war.
7/28/1959 – A steady rain brought relief from drought conditions across West Michigan. Dry weather began in April, resulting in water rationing in Grand Rapids by the middle of July.
7/30/1913 – Offshore winds negate the cooling effect of Lake Michigan as Muskegon hits 99 degrees for its all-time record high temperature. Temperatures are actually a bit lower inland as Grand Rapids is 96 degrees and Lansing 92 degrees.
7/31/1883 – Very heavy rains during June and July cause the Grand River to rise to unusually high summer levels. Lumber companies use the high water to float logs to a log boom upstream of Grand Rapids. The logs broke loose and crashed into the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad bridge creating a jam estimated at thirty-feet deep and seven-miles long. Sections of Grand Rapids were flooded by backwater. Eventually the bridge gave way and several bridges downstream were damaged by the cascading logs.
2012 – The worst heat wave in decades struck southwest lower Michigan during the first week of the month as the thermometer rose to levels not reached in some locations since record keeping began in the mid to late 1800s.