The new hottest place on Earth: Death Valley, California

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:18 PM GMT on September 13, 2012

Share this Blog
49
+

As any weather aficionado can avow, Earth's most iconic weather record has long been the legendary all-time hottest temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) measured 90 years ago today at El Azizia, Libya on September 13, 1922. One hundred thirty six degrees! It's difficult to comprehend that heat like that could exist on our planet. For 90 years, no place on Earth has come close to beating the unbelievable 136 degree reading from Al Azizia, and for good reason--the record is simply not believable. But Earth's mightiest weather record has been officially cast down. Today, the official arbiter of Earth's weather records, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), announced that the all-time heat record held for exactly 90 years by El Azizia in Libya "is invalid because of an error in recording the temperature." The WMO committee found five major problems with the measurement. Most seriously, the temperature was measured in a paved courtyard over a black, asphalt-like material by a new and inexperienced observer, not trained in the use of an unsuitable replacement instrument that could be easily misread. The observer improperly recorded the observation, which was consequently in error by about 7°C (12.6°F.) The new official highest hottest place on the planet is now Death Valley, California. A remarkable high temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured there on 10 July 1913, at Greenland Ranch.


Figure 1. The trading post at Al Azizia, Libya in 1923. The photo was taken from the Italian military fort located on a small hill just south of the trading post. It was at this fort that the temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) was observed on Sept. 13, 1922 (used with permission from the family of Gen. Enrico Pezzi).

The story behind the overturning of Earth's most hallowed weather record
Today's announcement is the culmination of a 3-year research effort begun by wunderground weather historian, Christopher C. Burt. His blog post today, World Heat Record Overturned--A Personal Account, provides a fascinating detective story on how the record came to be cast down--and how the Libyan revolution of 2012 almost prevented this from happening.


Figure 2. The new official hottest place on the planet: Death Valley, California. Wide open spaces, infinite views, intensely salty water, mind-boggling heat. What's not to love about this place? Image credit: Wunderphotographer SonomaCountyRAF.

Dead Heat: The Video
Don't miss the 25-minute wunderground video, Dead Heat, a detective story on how the El Azizia record was overturned.

Atlantic tropical update
Tropical Storm Nadine is recurving to the northwest and north well east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, on a track that would likely keep this storm far out at sea away from any land areas. However, Nadine may eventually threaten the Azores Islands or Newfoundland; the models are divided on how the steering currents will evolve next week, and we cannot be sure which way Nadine will go during the middle of next week.

The models predict that a trough of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast may serve as the focus for development of a non-tropical low pressure system on Sunday or Monday, but this low will likely form too far to the north to become a tropical storm. The GFS model has been predicting a tropical wave coming off the coast of Africa may develop next week, but has not been consistent with the timing or location of the development.

In the Western Pacific, Super Typhoon Sanba is an impressive top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, and is headed north-northwest towards a possible landfall in Korea early next week.

Given the importance of the new world record all-time high temperature, I'll leave this post up until Saturday afternoon, when I'll post an update on the tropics.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 247 - 197

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Quoting TomTaylor:
me bad then
just trying to cut-off any arguments before they start.. i mean, the mistaken ones at least :P
let the other arguments continue!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:
yay rain! but it is getting ridiculous.



PRC031-132000-
/O.NEW.TJSJ.FA.Y.0329.120913T1800Z-120913T2000Z/
/00000.N.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
CAROLINA PR-
200 PM AST THU SEP 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN JUAN HAS ISSUED AN

* URBAN AND SMALL STREAM FLOOD ADVISORY
FOR THE FOLLOWING MUNICIPALITY...

IN PUERTO RICO
CAROLINA

* UNTIL 400 PM AST

* AT 157 PM AST...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS
WITH TORRENTIAL RAINFALL OVER CAROLINA PRODUCING RAINFALL RATES OF
ONE TO TWO INCHES PER HOUR. THIS WILL CAUSE FLOODING OF URBAN AND
POOR DRAINAGE AREAS AND SHARP RISES ON AREAS STREAMS.

MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN AUTOMOBILES. NEVER DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO
AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. FLOOD WATERS ARE USUALLY
DEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR. JUST ONE FOOT OF FLOWING WATER IS POWERFUL
ENOUGH TO SWEEP VEHICLES OFF THE ROAD. WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED
ROADS MAKE THE SMART CHOICE...TURN AROUND...DONT DROWN.

&&

LAT...LON 1844 6598 1843 6593 1841 6592 1839 6593
1838 6592 1832 6591 1833 6596 1839 6600
1840 6599 1842 6603 1845 6604 1846 6599

$$

ER
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14890
Quoting Neapolitan:
The difference between even the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth -- -128.5F in Antarctica -- and absolute zero -- -459.67F -- is 331 degrees. That leaves a whole lot of slack to take up before temps start any "narrowing".

The fact is, in a stable climate, record highs and record lows would be expected to occur with roughly the same frequency over the long term. That they're not doing so is yet more evidence of a warming climate.

Heres an interesting one:-
The freezing point of Carbon Dioxide:-
The freezing temperature for carbon dioxide? In: Physics. Answer: around -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-78.5 degrees C).
So the carbon dioxide possible link to global warming would be eliminated if the temps were down to below -109.3/F
All our and the world problems would be solved then as we would all perish and the CO2 would become dry ice.
Up until that condition is fulfilled, watch this blog for developments.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:
yay rain! but it is getting ridiculous.

Rain for me also :) Felicidad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


I think I know what he meant, Tom. He is, I believe, saying that the ice would not be disappearing if the climate was staying the same or getting cooler. The loss of sea ice is due to warmer conditions and not stagnant or cooling conditions. Am I correct, originalLT?
Yeah, his wording threw me off.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting originalLT:
Looking at Post #212, that Ice isn't disappearing because the Earth 's temp. is staying the same, or getting cooler.


Yeah, it melts because its summer... happens every year... :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
241. JLPR2
yay rain! but it is getting ridiculous.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You are correct Post # 235.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
18z Best Track for Nadine stays at 60kts.

AL, 14, 2012091318, , BEST, 0, 233N, 526W, 60, 990, TS
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14890
156 catastropheadjuster: So does it look like the door shut for the Atlantic Hurricane Season? It seems kinda of quite in here for a few days know. Is the reason why the season is just about over so early because of El Nino?

I'm not sure it even makes sense to talk of ElNino / Neutral / LaNina HurricanSeasons when the effects of ElNino/etc are cause by the temperature differential between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
ElNino / Neutral / LaNina themselves refer only to temperature differences internally within the Pacific. And since the Atlantic is getting warmer...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DocNDswamp:
Hmmmmm....

"Most seriously, the temperature was measured in a paved courtyard over a black, asphalt-like material"

Ah ha, see Watts was right about the poor siting issues!
;)

Now, if Africa wants to attempt getting the world record all-time hottest temperature back, I'd suggest they have a more than excellent chance if set up an official observation station at this location - on the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti... This is one of the most hellish places on earth, already situated in the extremely hot, humid Red Sea region, it's surrounded by desert, lying within the Afar depression - it's the lowest elevation in all Africa at over 500 ft below sea level (similar to Death Valley)... PLUS there's plenty of geothermal activity nearby adding to the misery index with heat from above and below... From my copy of May 1990 National Geographic feature on Africa's Great Rift Valley, page 6 illustration states - "Scorching sun casts long shadows as camels cross the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti, one of the lowest places on earth at 156 meters (512 feet) below sea level. It's also one of the hottest -- summer temperatures reach 57C (135F)." ... The Wiki article also links to BBC correspondent's report, stating "At Lake Assal, in the centre of the country, the summer temperature here routinely reaches 55C (131F)...

This would be my candidate for setting any all-time NEW world heat record, if had a weather station to record it...

Sounds like an awful place to live, but it's extremely close proximity to the ocean (Red Sea) makes me doubt it would ever reach world record temperatures.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Houston is on pace for it's warmest year. Kind of hard to believe after last year but as of now Houston's avg temperature is 0.4 degrees higher than this mark last year.




The national avg temp is blowing 1998 away

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomTaylor:
Wrong.


I think I know what he meant, Tom. He is, I believe, saying that the ice would not be disappearing if the climate was staying the same or getting cooler. The loss of sea ice is due to warmer conditions and not stagnant or cooling conditions. Am I correct, originalLT?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z Euro..Ive seen this system on several model runs that is supposed to develop in the GOM and merge with a trough/front and head towards the east coast..

120 hours
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ZCZC MIATWOEP ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1100 AM PDT THU SEP 13 2012

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
STORM KRISTY...LOCATED ABOUT 280 MILES SOUTH OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF
BAJA CALIFORNIA.

1. AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE CENTERED ABOUT 650 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE
SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA IS PRODUCING DISORGANIZED
CLOUDINESS AND THUNDERSTORMS. DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...WILL BE SLOW
TO OCCUR BEFORE THE LOW INTERACTS WITH KRISTY. THIS SYSTEM HAS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

2. ANOTHER AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ACCOMPANIED BY CLOUDINESS AND
THUNDERSTORMS IS CENTERED MIDWAY BETWEEN BAJA CALIFORNIA AND THE
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS. THIS LOW IS DRIFTING WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AND HAS A
LOW CHANCE...10 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA
NNNN


wow... look at the epac... just found out
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PlazaRed:

That was August, Ive no doubt that the situation has taken a turn a bit more downhill form the ice point of view since then, as its now about the mid September max low ice cover point.
It will be interesting to see at what date the ice starts to recover this year?
Good question. CT sea ice area reached a new low again today; there's now 663,000 square kilometers less ice area than there was on this date last year, and 710,000 km2 less than on this date in 2007. (The previous record set just last year has been bested by more than 640,000 km2. So far.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting originalLT:
You are right , Minnemike
me bad then
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12Z GFS parks a system near the central antilles on the 23rd sept.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting N3EG:


I'm not trying to disprove AGW by saying this, but isn't it easier to break a heat record than a cold record anyway? Without factors like a recent volcanic eruption to limit heating, wouldn't an open-ended heat scale allow for more records than a narrowing-toward-absolute-zero cold scale?

Of course, I never took college physics, so I could likely be wrong...
The difference between even the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth -- -128.5F in Antarctica -- and absolute zero -- -459.67F -- is 331 degrees. That leaves a whole lot of slack to take up before temps start any "narrowing".

The fact is, in a stable climate, record highs and record lows would be expected to occur with roughly the same frequency over the long term. That they're not doing so is yet more evidence of a warming climate.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12Z Nogaps..




Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Minnemike:
i'm thinking 'wrong' is the way you read it... i read it as, "warming is the implied reason."
;)
hm, maybe. Edited the post just in case.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sanba

In funk

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Invest80Lurk:
I hate global warming debates but i have to say it...so the record was set in 1913 and hasnt been topped since and in 2010, 1180 snowfall records were broken when 49 of the 50 states got snow. im no scientist but i can observe facts quite well ...tell me one more time how the earth is getting hotter?


There are tons of facts to observe here:

--> National Climate Data Center<--

Such as:



and



and

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:
I've seen short lists of possible hottest-place contenders, and Lake Assal often comes in at or near the top. However, Iran's Lut Desert almost always leads the list. Based on what I've read, I've little doubt that it would almost certainly best even Death Valley were a surface station located there (a NASA satellite recorded an unverifiable temperature of 159F there in 2005).


Yes, that's another great choice... Probably could get hotter there as sat estimates have shown. Imagine might have a bit more annual variance in temps with Winter, so wider breadth extremes while Lake Assal varies minimally... LOL, like the title of this - "Lut Desert: The Quietest and Cleanest Place in Iran!"
- so inhospitable it's virtually unspoiled by mankind!
;)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
kirsty

in Funk

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GTcooliebai:
The Canadian Model takes the blob over the Keys into the BOC and tries to develop it and swings it around as it heads back towards the West Coast of FL. Link


..dang it Caleb, we don't need any more blobage rain in Florida... it will be your fault now if it does. :)

edit; sorry LT, I read it wrong too
Member Since: September 23, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 2639
Nadine

IN Funk

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You are right , Minnemike
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomTaylor:
Wrong.
i'm thinking 'wrong' is the way you read it... i read it as, "warming is the implied reason."
;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Canadian Model takes the blob over the Keys into the BOC and tries to develop it and swings it around as it heads back towards the West Coast of FL. Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


I think the subject is starting to get a grasp on us.

- Source

If you are waiting to get a grasp on the subject of the Arctic sea ice, you had better hurry. Time is running out for you to do so.

That was August, Ive no doubt that the situation has taken a turn a bit more downhill form the ice point of view since then, as its now about the mid September max low ice cover point.
It will be interesting to see at what date the ice starts to recover this year?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
edited
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looking at Post #212, that Ice isn't disappearing because the Earth 's temp. is staying the same, or getting cooler.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JeffMasters:


Hi, I do tend to ignore the WPac more than I should--I did add a mention of Sanba just now; thanks for the recommendation. I have meetings all morning Friday in NYC then hop on a plane, so will be unable to do a proper blog update on Friday, which is the main reason I am leaving up the current post an extra day.

Jeff Masters


Actually Sanba came almost out of the blue. The JTWCs tropical weather outlook noted the chance of development as medium still the morning of the day before yesterday or so and the warnings of the folks in Honolulu predicted a maximum as a severe tropical storm or maybe weak typhoon still through a good part of yesterday. Sanba just made boom.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
213. N3EG
Quoting Neapolitan:
...for 2012 to-date, the U.S. has seen more than 55,000 heat records, and just 9,500 or so cold records.


I'm not trying to disprove AGW by saying this, but isn't it easier to break a heat record than a cold record anyway? Without factors like a recent volcanic eruption to limit heating, wouldn't an open-ended heat scale allow for more records than a narrowing-toward-absolute-zero cold scale?

Of course, I never took college physics, so I could likely be wrong...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomballTXPride:

The Earth isn't getting warmer. But if you stay on this blog long enough, you'll start getting warmer to give an illusion it is warmer around.

Nah all joking aside, I really don't feel it's getting any warmer. I don't think anyone will really begin to know for quite a while once we have a better grasp on the subject.


I think the subject is starting to get a grasp on us.

- Source

If you are waiting to get a grasp on the subject of the Arctic sea ice, you had better hurry. Time is running out for you to do so.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks as though there was a brief satellite blackout for MTSAT. The latest imagery from Sanba is shown below and reveals the convective mass has become more asymmetric. Might see a slight drop in the dvorak numbers as a result.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DocNDswamp:
Hmmmmm....

"Most seriously, the temperature was measured in a paved courtyard over a black, asphalt-like material"

Ah ha, see Watts was right about the poor siting issues!
;)

Now, if Africa wants to attempt getting the world record all-time hottest temperature back, I'd suggest they have a more than excellent chance if set up an official observation station at this location - on the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti... This is one of the most hellish places on earth, already situated in the extrememly hot, humid Red Sea region, it's surrounded by desert, lying within the Afar depression - it's the lowest elevation in all Africa at over 500 ft below sea level (similar to Death Valley)... PLUS there's plenty of geothermal activity nearby adding to the misery index with heat from above and below... From my copy of May 1990 National Geographic feature on Africa's Great Rift Valley, page 6 illustration states - "Scorching sun casts long shadows as camels cross the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti, one of the lowest places on earth at 156 meters (512 feet) below sea level. It's also one of the hottest -- summer temperatures reach 57C (135F)." ... The Wiki article also links to BBC correspondent's report, stating "At Lake Assal, in the centre of the country, the summer temperature here routinely reaches 55C (131F)...

This would be my candidate for setting any all-time NEW world heat record, if had a weather station to record it...

I've seen short lists of possible hottest-place contenders, and Lake Assal often comes in at or near the top. However, Iran's Lut Desert almost always leads the list. Based on what I've read, I've little doubt that it would almost certainly best even Death Valley were a surface station located there (a NASA satellite recorded an unverifiable temperature of 159F there in 2005).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting icmoore:


Yeah, it sure looks like everything got watered there today. Maybe starting to clear out soon.

a href="Photobucket" target="_blank">
Yes, everything got watered, but I think I still need to water. A lot of my plants are in pots and it hasn't rained long enough for it to soak down into them. It is real hard to dig a hole in coral rock and then once you get them in the ground, you have to continually cut back. We really could use a good two to three day soaker sitting over us. Especially since the dry season is just around the corner, and I think it will start off early by way of the trough dropping down on us so early. It felt like fall last night as I was sitting out enjoying the evening breezes. I guess the birds are never wrong. Saw swallows in late July, early August. They usually don't migrate that early.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
208 @ 2:08
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Nadine
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Invest80Lurk:
I hate global warming debates but i have to say it...so the record was set in 1913 and hasnt been topped since and in 2010, 1180 snowfall records were broken when 49 of the 50 states got snow. im no scientist but i can observe facts quite well ...tell me one more time how the earth is getting hotter?
An outlying high temperature record or two is to be expected; what's vastly more important and telling is the overwhelming imbalance between record high and record low temperatures. (For example, for 2012 to-date, the U.S. has seen more than 55,000 heat records, and just 9,500 or so cold records.)

As the Earth warms, the atmosphere is able to hold more precipitable water. That means more rain where and when it normally rains, and more snow where and when it normally snows. Scientists will tell you that beyond a shadow of a doubt the earth is warming. And they'll also guarantee you that cold and snow records will be broken this winter--just as they are every winter. GW does not mean the end of snow or cold weather; if anyone ever told you that, they were mistaken.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hmmmmm....

"Most seriously, the temperature was measured in a paved courtyard over a black, asphalt-like material"

Ah ha, see Watts was right about the poor siting issues!
;)

Now, if Africa wants to attempt getting the world record all-time hottest temperature back, I'd suggest they have a more than excellent chance if set up an official observation station at this location - on the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti... This is one of the most hellish places on earth, already situated in the extremely hot, humid Red Sea region, it's surrounded by desert, lying within the Afar depression - it's the lowest elevation in all Africa at over 500 ft below sea level (similar to Death Valley)... PLUS there's plenty of geothermal activity nearby adding to the misery index with heat from above and below... From my copy of May 1990 National Geographic feature on Africa's Great Rift Valley, page 6 illustration states - "Scorching sun casts long shadows as camels cross the salt flats of Lake Assal, Djibouti, one of the lowest places on earth at 156 meters (512 feet) below sea level. It's also one of the hottest -- summer temperatures reach 57C (135F)." ... The Wiki article also links to BBC correspondent's report, stating "At Lake Assal, in the centre of the country, the summer temperature here routinely reaches 55C (131F)...

This would be my candidate for setting any all-time NEW world heat record, if had a weather station to record it...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Some pulled back shots. Click for the loop.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
JTWC mentioned Sanba was annular in there last discussion. While the nearly symmetrical doughnut of convection around the decent sized eye does give the impression of an annular storm, I'm not sure I totally agree with that analysis based off microwave imagery where banding is clearly present in the western semicircle.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I hate global warming debates but i have to say it...so the record was set in 1913 and hasnt been topped since and in 2010, 1180 snowfall records were broken when 49 of the 50 states got snow. im no scientist but i can observe facts quite well ...tell me one more time how the earth is getting hotter?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting FtMyersgal:


LOL, aren't we all?


well its not so good if i am, im only 15..
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9757
12Z GFS : fish
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Is it me, or are the Atlantic and Gomex satellite pix stuck at 13:15 GMT?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 247 - 197

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
27 °F
Overcast

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron