Preliminary recordings show Death Valley in California on Sunday reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit, or 54.4 degrees Celsius, according to the National Weather Service in the United States.
Temperature records are a hotly contested, confusing business.
As it stands, the hottest temperature on record is 56.7C, recorded at the same weather station as Sunday’s reading, Furnace Creek, back on July 7, 1913.
But this old record is widely disputed.
Even the official temperature record website notes there may have been a sandstorm at the time which could have affected the reading.
Today Death Valley may have recorded the hottest temp ever measured on Earth (pending verification)
— Peter Kalmus (@ClimateHuman) August 17, 2020
If we ignore the 1913 Death Valley record, the next highest temperature on the official record is 55.0C recorded in Tunisia back in 1931, but this value is also widely considered questionable.
Then there are a few locations that are more reliably recorded at 54.0C — Furnace Creek on June 13, 2013, Mitribah in Kuwait on July 21, 2016, and Turbat in Pakistan on May 28, 2017.
So if verified, Sunday’s 54.4C would beat out those more reputable values.
But do not hold your breath waiting for official verification from the World Meteorological Organisation, the process can take years.
Per the climate data in xmACIS2, this is the first time since 1913 that Death Valley has reached 130F. In July 2013, it last reached 129F. If valid, it would be the hottest August temperature at the site by 3F. @NWSVegas pic.twitter.com/gZNBW4NXI4
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 16, 2020
Even once on the list, it is up for review — as happened to the once-record 58.0C recorded in El Azizia in modern day Libya back in 1922 which was struck off the official records following a review conducted by the World Meteorological Organisation in 2010 to 2012.
Australia’s highest official temperature is 50.7C, recorded at Oodnadatta Airport back on January 2, 1960.
US Heat wave day 3#16 August : The Death Valley record of 130F-54.4C, which is the highest reliable temp. ever recorded in climatic history will be checked and confirmed by NOAA. Other records set today include an August monthly record Tmax at Stockton CA with 113F-45.0C. pic.twitter.com/Euof3yLAct
— Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps) August 17, 2020
These high temperatures are the latest record news to come out of a hot northern hemisphere summer which has so far included Arctic fires, widespread heatwaves, and now fires in California.
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