Headlines on the Birmingham News on Tuesday, July 15, 1980 said that Federal relief was being sought as heat deaths mounted in the Magic City. Roads across Alabama were baking and cracking in the heat. Power companies across the state were scrambking to meet extreme demand because of the high temperatures.
The death toll in Birmingham had risen to 33 while across the state, the fatality count from heat related illnesses was at 47. Nationally, the toll was at 600.
National Weather Service forecaster Harold Quattlebaum was quoted saying that no relief was in sight. He hoped that scattered showers and thunderstorms would return to the area the coming Friday and Saturday.
It was becoming obvious that some long standing heat records were going to fall in Birmingham. The standing record for number of consecutive days will 100+ degree temperatures was 7, recorded between September 3-9, 1925. The high of 102F on the 15th at the Birmingham Airport marked the sixth consecutive 100 degree plus day there. The string would extend to 8 days by the 17th and would have continued on the 18th, but the mercury stopped at 99F that day as thunderstorms formed in the heat of the day. The consecutive 100F+ day streak would stand until 2007.
It was also not obvious that the all time record high of 107F set on July 29, 1930 would make it through the 1980 heat wave. (It would and still has to this date.
Other hot highs across the state on the 15th included 103F at Tuscaloosa and Mobile; 101F at Huntsville, Decatur, Muscle Shoals, Gadsden and Centreville; 100F at Anniston, Pinson and Selma; 99F at Montgomery and 97F at Dothan.