The last May 18 that was this hot had deadly consequences

Nantasket Beach on Thursday.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Nantasket Beach on Thursday.

It was a deadly day the last time it was this hot on May 18 in Boston.

Two men were overcome by the heat in East Boston, including a man as he watered his lawn on Bennington Street. The thermometer rose to 91 degrees, which until Thursday was the record for warmth for May 18, according to the National Weather Service.

Here’s the lead paragraph of the Globe from May 19, 1936.


“Record-breaking heat of 91 degrees at 3:15 o’clock yesterday afternoon caused the death of two men in East Boston and sent thousands to the beaches for sun baths and bathing. The weather did a violent somersault, rising 45 degrees in less than 36 hours from Sunday morning’s minimum temperature of 46 degrees.’’

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And the skies were filled with lightning. “The sky over Boston was frequently ripped by lightning flashes and thunder was heard at 7:49 p.m.,’’ the Globe reported.

In Randolph, three people were injured when they were struck by lightning, while a teenager in Rhode Island was killed by a lightning strike.

In Mendon, lighting started a fire at the Mendon Unitarian Church – a historic church where relatives of President William Howard Taft once worshipped – that eventually consumed the building. Damage was estimated at $85,000, the equivalent of $1.5 million today.

In Brockton, the heat essentially melted major streets in the city’s downtown. “The intense heat apparently reached the filled foundation under the paved roadway in the center of the city and caused it to buckle for a considerable distance … tying up traffic for miles,’’ the Globe reported.


It wasn’t all bad, however, the Globe reported. In the North End, card games were played on the sidewalk on Hanover Street, and a Globe photographer snapped an image of a mother and two aunts comforting an upset baby boy while all were on the banks of the Charles River.

A final note: May 19, 1936 was “mostly cloudy and cooler,” similar to what the National Weather Service expects for May 19, 2017.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.