Hottest air temperatures reported on Earth

By: Christopher C. Burt , 5:20 PM GMT on October 22, 2010

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In my previous post, I questioned the validity of the hottest temperature measured on earth: the 58°C (136.4°F) reading from Al Azizia, Libya in September 1922. If, in fact, this record is not valid, then what might be the absolute maximum temperature measured on earth? There are just a handful of regions in the world that have the potential of recording temperatures of 130°F (54.5°C) or more (excluding heat burst measurements). I list them here in no particular order:

1) Death Valley, California (see list below) and the Colorado Desert in the southern part of the state (where anecdotal temperatures as high as 130°F have been reported and temperatures as hot as 126°F (52.2°C) officially measured (at Thermal on July 28, 1995 and Mecca on June 26, 1990). Also, the Colorado River Valley from the southern tip of Nevada to the Gulf of California can be as hot or even hotter, with an official reading of 128°F (53.3°C) measured at Lake Havasu City, Arizona on June 29, 1994.

2) Possibly some portions of the western Sahara Desert, specifically the Tidikelt Depression in Algeria, and lowest areas of northern Mali and northeastern Mauritania. Unfortunately, there are no weather stations in these areas, the nearest being In Salah, Algeria and Araouane in Mali (see below).


Figure 1. The World Survey of Climatology, Vol. 10: Climates of Africa reproduced this map of possible absolute extreme maximum temperatures, but it is based upon the dubious maximums recorded during the colonial era, and, in fact, no temperature above 124°F (52°C) has ever been recorded in the Sahara Desert in modern records.

3) The interior of southeastern Saudi Arabia in portions of the Rub Al Khali Desert and areas around the Persian Gulf. Again, unfortunately, there is no climate data from the Rub Al Khali Desert and it is simple speculation, given the topography and characteristics of the region, that temperatures as high as 55°C might be possible. The populated areas along and just inland along the shores of the Persian Gulf have measured official temperatures as high as 127°F (52.6°C) at Abdaly, Kuwait, and 126.5°F (52.5°C) at Hamidiyeh, Iran. Unofficial temperatures of 129°F (53.9°C) have been reported from this region as well.

4) The region along the lower Indus River of Pakistan centered around Jacobabad. Temperatures as high as 128.3°F (53.5°C) have been measured here (Moen-jo-Daro on May 26, 2010) and 125° is reached almost every year during May in Jacobabad. We can speculate that at some point 130°F may be possible.

5) Other regions of potential (and recorded) extreme heat include the eastern part of the Dasht E Lut Desert in Iran (no records), the Dead Sea area of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan (where temperatures up to 126°F/52°C) have been recorded), and the central-western inland coastal region of Saudi Arabia (around Jeddah) where 126°F (52°C) has also been measured.

Studies by geographer Mark Jefferson (1926) and by Hoffman (1963) conclude that the highest possible surface air temperature on earth (measured by standard modern instruments) would be in the range of 131-133°F (see Weather and Climate Extremes by Dr. Paul F. Krause and Kathleen L. Flood, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Topographic Engineering Center paper TEC-0099, September 1997.

So below is a list of all both 'measured' and 'anecdotal' absolute maximum temperatures on record above 129°F (54°C). The lists are not completely comprehensive so far as many European colonial measurements made in Africa prior to 1950 in places like Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Mali. Multiple readings of 54°-55°C were reported in these countries between 1900-1940.

VALIDITY SCORE: I have rated all the below records on a score from 0-10: (0) Zero means completely unbelievable to (10), indisputable.

136.4° (58.0°C) Sept. 13, 1922 Al Azizia, Libya
SOURCE: R. Ufficio Centrale di Meteorologia e Geodinamica; Osservazioni dell anno 1922 Rome, Italy
NOTE: This site reported numerous 130°+ reading between 1920-1926.
NOTES: See detailed discussion of this event in my previous post.
VALIDITY SCORE: 1
The evidence appears to be overwhelmingly against the validity of this measurement.

134.8° (57.1°C) July 12, 1936 Tindouf, Algeria
SOURCE unknown, perhaps Service Meteorologique, Dakar
NOTES: The hottest temperature measured at Tindouf in modern records is 118° (47.8°C) in July 1998. The older records (1925-1950) as reported in Tables of Temperature, Relative Humidity and Precipitation for the World, British Meteorological Office, 1967 show an absolute maximum of 122°F for Tindouf. A reading of 57.1°C was also reported from Ouargla, Algeria on Aug. 27, 1884.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
There is no way this site could have recorded such a temperature given its altitude near 2000..

134° (56.7°) July 10, 1913 Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA
SOURCE Monthly Weather Review, June 1915, U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture
NOTES: This site reported several other 130°F+ readings during this heat episode (130° on the 12th and 131° on the 13th) but never again after this July of 1913. Many in depth articles have been written about the validity of the measurement. See:

Monthly Weather Review, June 1915 pp. 278-280

The Climate of Death Valley, by Steven Roof and Charlie Callagan, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, December 2003.

Weatherwise magazine, Retrospect: July 10, 1913: Highest Temperature Ever Recorded in North America, by Sean Potter, July-August 2010 issue.

Weatherwise magazine, 134°, by David Ludlum, June 1963 pp. 116-117

The record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States. I don't have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence. Normally when Death Valley records its hottest temperatures they occur during region-wide heat waves. On July 10, 1913 the next highest temperatures recorded in southern California (aside from Greenland Ranch) were just 119° at Heber and 118° at Mammoth Tank.


Figure 2. The instrument shelter at Greenland Ranch in 1926. (Photo from Bancroft Library Collection, Univ. of California, Berkeley).


Figure 3. The COOP form for Greenland Ranch in August 1924 shows some very suspicious readings with 16 nights above 100° including a 12-day consecutive stretch of such, including two at 110°! The modern (post 1934) record for Death Valley has never had more than 3 consecutive nights above 100° and a hottest night-ever of 104° on July 23-24, 2003.

VALIDITY SCORE: 5
This is a 50-50 proposition. The record was probably in error but it is difficult to 'prove' so. But using the criteria of old versus modern records one can see a problem with the 1913 record.

133° (56.1°C) date unknown In Salah, Algeria
SOURCE Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book by Christopher C. Burt
NOTES: I can find no reference for this reading anywhere in old or modern records. My bad for reporting it in my book Extreme Weather. The highest temperature in the old records for In Salah (1925-1950) indicate an absolute maximum of 122° and in the modern records an absolute maximum of 50.6° (123.1°F) was measured on July 12, 2002.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
A mistake I made in my book. No temperature above 123.1°F has been officially recorded here. In fact, no temperature above 52°C has ever been recorded anywhere in the Sahara Desert in modern records.

131° (55.0°C) June (sometime between 1924-1942) Ghadames, Libya
SOURCE Libyan National Meteorological Centre
NOTES: Errors in keying in data for all of the 50°C+ recordings at Ghadames have been uncovered by the Libyan National Meteorological Center. For instance, a report of 54.2°C in June 1975 was actually 45.2°C and a 54.0°C reading in May 1969 was actually 45.0°C. Data for Ghadames prior to 1955 is considered unreliable because instrument exposure issues. The highest reliable temperature measured at Ghadames is 48.4°C (119.1°F) in July 1977.
VALIDITY SCORE: 1
Ghadames is not a particularly hot location in spite of old colonial temperature data. It has a good long record and the hottest modern (post 1960) temperature using good instruments has been just 119°F (48.3°C).

131° (55.0°C) date unknown Ben Gardene, Tunisia
SOURCE: World Survey of Climatology: Vol.10, Climates of Africa, p.42
NOTES: This site is on the Gefara Plain along the Mediterranean Sea as is Al Azizia, Libya and subject to the Ghibili (foehn-like) wind phenomena. However, no modern temperature above 124°F (52°C) has yet be measured here.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
The older recordings by colonial stations used thermometers and shelters that probably cannot be accepted today. Furthermore, the modern records from this site do not support the possibility of such a high reading. See note below for Kibili.

131° (55.0°C) July 7, 1931 Kebili, Tunisia
SOURCE Service Meteorologique, Tunis
NOTES: There is a disconnect between many of the old (pre 1950) French and Italian colonial temperature records from many African weather stations versus the modern records at these same sites. Kebili is one of those. Between 1920-1933 Kebili reported 50-55°C maximum temperatures almost every summer. But since 2000 its absolute maximum has been only 48.5°C.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
The older recordings by colonial stations involved thermometers and shelters that probably cannot be accepted today. Further more, the modern records from this site do not support the possibility of such a high reading. However, this particular site has a fractured history so far as its climate record is concerned and is subject to unusual heat waves thanks to the Sirocco wind events. A brief period of modern records from 2000-2010 has a 48.5°C (119.3°F) reading on July 26, 2005. But this is a long way from 55°C (131°F) measured during the 1920-1935 period of record).

130° (54.4°) Aug. 17, 1885 Amos (Mammoth Tank), California, USA
SOURCE: Climatology of California, U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture Bulletin L, 1903
NOTES: the Southern Pacific Railroad maintained several weather stations in the Colorado Desert region of southern California during the 19th century as watering stations for trains using their lines. It is likely that the thermometers and shelters and, most importantly, exposure location of these, was not up to official standards. Mammoth Tank, recorded 128°-130°F every summer between 1883 and 1887. After 1887 it would appear that there was some change in the instruments or shelter exposure since no temperature higher than 122° was reported (from 1887-1903). The old sites of Volcano Springs and Salton (now submerged under the waters of the Salton Sea) once reported temperatures of 129° (June 23, 1902) and 128° respectively.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
Instruments were most likely overexposed.

130° (54.4°C) June (sometime between 1931-1940) Araouane, Mali
SOURCE: Service Meteorologique, Dakar
NOTES: Timbuktu has also supposedly recorded 130°F in the past (its modern record is 118° (47.8°C in May 1958). Once again, however, there is a disconnect between the colonial era temperature measurements and the modern-era ones (see Kibili, Tunisia note above). There is no weather station in Araouane now, but the hottest modern and reliable temperature in Mali is 48.2°C (119°F) at Gao in May 1988.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
The older recordings by colonial stations involved thermometers and shelters that probably cannot be accepted today.

129.2° (54.0°C) June 21, 1942 Tirat Zvi, Israel
SOURCE: Bio-Climatic Atlas of Israel by Dr. D. Ashbel, Central Press, Jerusalem, 1950, p.125
NOTES: This is the most obvious error of all. The thermograph trace recording this temperature obviously peaked at 53°C (127.4°C) not 54°C (and two other nearby stations recorded only 52°C/126°F). But somebody wrote on it (with an arrow pointing at the peak, '54°'. They misread the thermograph as anyone can see on close examination. It is interesting that no one seems to have ever noticed this mistake before weather historian Howard Rainford pointed this out last summer; this has been widely accepted as the hottest temperature ever measured in Asia:


Figure 4. The thermograph trace recording the June 21, 1942 temperature at Tirat Zvi, Israel, shows that the temperature obviously peaked at 53°C (127.4°C) not 54°C. But somebody wrote on it (with an arrow pointing at the peak, '54°'. They misread the thermograph as anyone can see on close examination. Image credit: Bio-Climatic Atlas of Israel by Dr. D. Ashbel, Central Press, Jerusalem, 1950, p.125.

VALIDITY SCORE: 0
This was a very obvious error. Probable maximum temperature between 52-53°C (as recorded at two other sites nearby).

129° (53.9°C) July 7, 2007, July 20, 2005, and July 18, 1998 Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California, USA and also at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley on July 20, 1960
SOURCE: United States Weather Bureau (USWB)
NOTES: These readings are the highest reliably (and undisputed) temperatures yet recorded in the world.
VALIDITY SCORE: 10
These are measurements made under standard conditions using modern shelters and instruments.

ANECDOTAL TEMPERATURE REPORTS
188° (86.7°C) June or July, 1967 Abadan, Iran (heat burst)
SOURCE: News clip, no further info available. See Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book, by Christopher C. Burt, 2007, for more information on this event.
NOTES: This surely is an apocryphal record. The highest official temperature during the months of June or July 1967 at Abadan was 48.9°C (120°F) on July 15. Not an unusual temperature for this area at this time of the year.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
Let.s think a moment just what kind of thermometer could have registered 188°F. An oven thermometer?

158° (70.0°C) July 6, 1949 near Lisbon, Portugal (heat burst)
SOURCE: News clip, no further info available. See Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book, by Christopher C. Burt, 2007, and Freaks of the Storm, by Randy Cerveny for more information on this event.
NOTES: The news reports of this event at the time claim this reading was made in the sun not shade. So it cannot be considered a reliable figure.
VALIDITY SCORE: 1
Well something amazing happened here this day but, again, just what kind of thermometer registers up to 158°F?

152° (66.7°C) July 10, 1977 Antalya, Turkey (heat burst)
SOURCE: News clip, no further info available. See Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book, by Christopher C. Burt, 2007, for more information on this event.
NOTES: The official maximum temperature at Antalya on July 10, 1977 was 43°C/109.4°F (and for that month 44°C/111.2°F on July 16). There is no reliable record concerning this 152° figure.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
No evidence physical or otherwise about this event.

140° (60.0°C) June 15, 1960 Kopperl, Texas, USA (heat burst)
SOURCE: Tornadoes, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation and Related Weather Phenomena, William Corliss, Catalog of Geophysical Anomalies, 1983. See Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book, by Christopher C. Burt, and Freaks of the Storm, by Randy Cerveny, for more information on this event.
NOTES: a thermometer outside Kopperl's Bait and Tackle Shop reportedly measured this temperature around midnight following the collapse of nearby thunderstorms. The reliability of the thermometer in question is not known however very few common thermometers are capable of registering a temperature of 140°F.
VALIDITY SCORE: 4
Physical evidence (burnt crops) indicates an amazing heat burst occurred here, but the only thermometer to register it is in question.

140° (60.0°C) August, 1953 Delta, Baja, Mexico
SOURCE: Weather and Climate Extremes, Krause and Flood, US Army Corps of Engineers Technical paper TEC-0099, 1997
NOTES: The thermometer used for this reading was considered badly overexposed and this record is invalid.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
We know it was a hot day and this region could perhaps record some incredible temperature. But 140°F?

140° (60.0°C) date unknown Riito, Sonora, Mexico
SOURCE: Weather and Climate Extremes, Krause and Flood, US Army Corps of Engineers Technical paper TEC-0099, 1997
NOTES: The thermometer used for this reading was considered badly overexposed and this record is invalid.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
We know it was a hot day and this region could perhaps record some incredible temperature. But 140°F?

136.4° (58.0°C) Aug. 11, 1933 San Luis, Baja, Mexico
SOURCE: World Almanac 1980
NOTES: The thermometer used for this reading was considered badly overexposed and this record is invalid.
VALIDITY SCORE: 2
We know it was a hot day and this region could perhaps record some incredible temperature.

136° (57.8°C) July 11, 1909 Cherokee, Oklahoma, USA
SOURCE: Monthly Weather Review, USWB, July 1909 p. 337
NOTES: No information is known about the thermometer used for this reading and the temperature is therefore dismissed in the Monthly Weather Review mention of the event.
VALIDITY SCORE: 3
Physical evidence (burnt crops) indicates something amazing happened here that night, but the thermometer validity is a big question mark.

135° (57.2°C) July, 1989 Al-Amarha, Iraq
SOURCE: News clip (undetermined)
NOTES: The official maximum temperature measured at Al-Amarha for the month of July 1989 is only 49°C (120.2°F) on July 24. The 135°F reading is obviously a press exaggeration or was made in the sun.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
Just a press exaggeration. No evidence whatsoever to support this.

133° (56.1°C) June 17, 1859 Santa Barbara, California, USA
SOURCE: The Coast Pilot of California, 1859
NOTES: There is no record of who made this measurement or exactly where it was made in Santa Barbara. Some later sources say it was made on a U.S. coastal geo-survey vessel. IF that is the case then the temperature is not possible since the waters off Santa Barbara in June are never warmer than about 70°F and any wind blowing over the ocean would have its temperature modified by the cool water no matter how hot the air.
VALIDITY SCORE: 1
This report is singular and there is physical evidence (burnt crops and dead animals) that something amazing happened here this day, but the temperature record is impossible to validate.

131° (55.0°C) Jan. 21, 1845 Interior of New South Wales, Australia
SOURCE: Monthly Weather Review, USWB, May 1930 p. 208
NOTES: This temperature is mentioned in passing as part of a discussion concerning hottest recorded temperatures from around the world. There is no further information known.
VALIDITY SCORE: 0
Old record and impossible to validate.

CONCLUSIONS CONCERNING ANECDOTAL RECORD TEMPERATURE REPORTS:
None of the above observations have ever been corroborated by other figures and are mostly the result of unofficial estimates or measurements made during heat bursts. They are all suspicious for one reason or another and cannot be taken too seriously and certainly not accepted as valid measurements.

CONCLUSIONS CONCERNING MEASURED RECORD TEMPERATURE REPORTS:
It would appear Death Valley, California holds the best authenticated value of 129°F and also the 2nd best 'possibly authentic' reading with the 134°F in 1913. I would propose that the hottest reliable, undisputed temperatures yet measured on earth are the 129°F (53.9°C) readings on four different occasions in Death Valley, California.

I think it also worth emphasizing the problems of the disconnect between old temperature data and modern temperature data from Africa (and elsewhere around the world). This makes it difficult to include anywhere on the continent of Africa among the 'possibly hottest' places on earth. There can only be two explanations for this;

1) The climate has become much cooler over the past 50 years in northern Africa, or,

2) The instruments and their shelters/locations during the first half of the 20th century were not as accurate as those used during the last half of the century. At least now we have the ability to double check suspicious data since it comes to us in real-time. Unfortunately, the old errors are harder to fix.

Kudos: to Maximiliano Herrera (who doesn't necessarily agree with what I have written above but nonetheless provided many useful facts and temperature data), and Howard Rainford.

References:

Too many to list. Please contact me for any specific references you would like to know.

Christopher C. Burt

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25. Merlin4me
3:58 PM GMT on November 03, 2014
Is there a maximum limit to air temperature as measured at the standard height above ground in a Stevenson screen? In the above posts it sounds like humidty, and the rising of hot air prevents the air from going any higher than the ones noted. Is this true? If so do geographical features (perhaps altitude, proximity to extensive open water, slopes etc) control what the maximum possible temperature could be at any location?
Member Since: November 3, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
24. abaya
11:29 AM GMT on October 17, 2014
Indeed, in recent years, the temperature of the Earth will not stop increasing. This is the global warming. The environment is threatened because of the different actions that man made him suffer.

An Africa many animals as well as people die because of the heat. Not to mention flooding everywhere.


boutique musulmane

Member Since: October 17, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
23. davedtc
1:25 AM GMT on July 22, 2013
Hi Chris - fascinating post. On this satellite map - http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/this-is-what-reco rd-heat-in-death-valley-looks-like-from-space

Furnace Creek ground temperature shows as slightly cooler than the surroundings. Possibly because of surrounding vegetation? Do you think despite "global warming" that Furnace Creek has generally not gotten relatively hotter compared to its surrounding environment b/c over the years humans have altered the environment at Furnace Creek - ie, golf course, campground, generally more vegetation?

I was in The Park on the 30th of June this year - Badwater was the hottest temperatures I've ever felt and I've been all over the park camping and hiking on dates during and around previous high temperatures, ie 2005, 2007 etc.

Thanks for any insights you might have into this.

~ Dave
Dave's Travel Corner
Member Since: July 22, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
22. maxcrc
7:40 PM GMT on July 14, 2013
Quoting 19. blairtrewin:
The Australian western deserts are mostly too elevated - most of that region is between 400 and 700 metres above sea level. Giles, the best long-term station in that area, has never reached 45, let along 50.

It's only reached 50 C three times (using standard instruments) in Australia - at Oodnadatta (northern South Australia), Wilcannia (western New South Wales) and Mardie (just inland from the north-west coast). These locations sample the likely hottest locations pretty well so I don't think it's likely that uninstrumented areas are significantly hotter.

The numbers I've seen from the Danakil Depression suggest that the consistency of the extreme heat is more exceptional than its peak intensity, not surprising given its relatively low latitude (optimal location for the highest extremes is just outside the tropics as that's where maximum daily solar radiation peaks, with the longer days in mid-summer offsetting the slightly off-overhead sun). The Qattara Dpression is a better chance but as far as I know it has no observations.


The Qattara depression is nowhere near the hottest places in the world. It is completely opened to the sea and its humidity level is never too low.
Besides, given there are no elevations at all surrounding it and given an isotherm above 32C ghas never passed nearby the area, the potential of extreme high temperatures is nowhere near that of other areas in Asia and Northern America. It 's a miracle if it can manage to jump above 49C.
Tidikelt, despite being little bit higher, can experience isotherm above it as high as 33.5C, the highest in Africa and it gets lower humidity levels, hence 50C is more likely to occurr, albeit it is an extremely rare event and 51C seems to be a limit for Africa.
Member Since: February 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 186
21. glaciers
12:14 AM GMT on January 12, 2013
Hi, I just found this blog. Great insight, and very interesting to say the least!

I have done quite a bit of research into records here in Canada, and I have to say I'm highly skeptical of more than a few of them.

I notice two things about Canadian records: 1) a lot of suspect readings from a 80 or more years ago, and 2) a lot of suspect readings starting 10 to 20 years ago until the present.

You can see my complete list of all 110 degrees F or more readings here (minus the half dozen or so that I'm >99% certain are errors), but even on this list some of them are a bit fishy. In addition, the supposed record for the province of Newfoundland & Labrador is supposedly 41.7°C (107°F) occurring way back in 1914, but the day before as well as the day after were only 18°C (65°F). This is a clear error in my view. Many other such errors exist rendering extreme maximum temperatures truly hard to gauge.

In some ways, it appears to me that the one holding the greatest record is the one with most inaccurate thermometer...or maybe the poorest eyesight.
Member Since: August 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
20. ZL4CO
7:48 AM GMT on September 23, 2012
Hi Chris,
Fascinating reading, thank you for taking the time to bring it too us.
I have oft told a story about working in a vineyard in Central Otago,NZ and becoming heat exhausted retreated to my vehicle which had what was considered to be a high quality digital temperature gauge fitted to it, (A Thermocouple used for the purpose of monitoring temperature at night for frost control) inside a gill type enclosure ... the gauge was reading err err flashing, and I thought to my self wow it must have cooked itself ... the temperature was 43 C when last checked ... so assumed it had succumbed to the internal temperature due to its situation on the dash. I draped a large tarpaulin over the vehicle and lay down to rest about 1:30pm, I stirred about 2 pm and looked up at the temperature gauge and it was reading 50 C ... I checked the manufacturers book, and it informed me that the gauge could read a maximum of 50 C. The gauge continued to function accurately for several years later

I am not suggesting that the actual temperature was up there ...Indeed it is a good sign of radiated heat from the hot bonnet of the vehicle, baking in the sun but I can tell you that it was a very very hot spot on a moraine terrace well above the valley floor ... and it was hot ... enough said. Would love to pop a data logger into that location and see where it would go too ... :-)
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
19. blairtrewin
10:52 PM GMT on October 26, 2010
The Australian western deserts are mostly too elevated - most of that region is between 400 and 700 metres above sea level. Giles, the best long-term station in that area, has never reached 45, let along 50.

It's only reached 50 C three times (using standard instruments) in Australia - at Oodnadatta (northern South Australia), Wilcannia (western New South Wales) and Mardie (just inland from the north-west coast). These locations sample the likely hottest locations pretty well so I don't think it's likely that uninstrumented areas are significantly hotter.

The numbers I've seen from the Danakil Depression suggest that the consistency of the extreme heat is more exceptional than its peak intensity, not surprising given its relatively low latitude (optimal location for the highest extremes is just outside the tropics as that's where maximum daily solar radiation peaks, with the longer days in mid-summer offsetting the slightly off-overhead sun). The Qattara Dpression is a better chance but as far as I know it has no observations.
Member Since: October 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 38
17. Snowfire
3:25 PM GMT on October 26, 2010
A footnote to this discussion---on the list of potential places where extreme temperatures might be sought, there was no mention of East Africa's Danakil Depression. This notorious hell-hole is generally recognized as having the world's highest average temperatures (average morning lows exceed 100F in some months)and there are some epic legends of extreme heat readings from that area, be they confirmed or no. Also, I wonder about Egypt's Qattara depression and parts of Australia's Western Desert.
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 311
16. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
6:35 AM GMT on October 26, 2010
Quoting NYR0027:
Hi Chris,

Could you please comment on the validity of the 50.0 C (122.0 F) reading measure on August 4, 1881 in Seville, Spain (considered by some to be the record for Europe)?

Many thanks,
- P


A temperature of 50.5C (123F) was reported from Riodades, Portugal (Alto Douro region) on this same date (see 'World Survey of Climatology; Vol. 5, Climates of Northern and Western Europe' p.207. Both readings are considered invalid due to exposure issues. In Seville's case the thermometer shelter was on a black-tarred roof of the church where it was recorded. Other 50C readings from Spain are also disputatious (like the 50C (122F at Berja, Almeria Province on July 18, 1978). A reading of 47.8C (118F) at Murcia Instituto, Murcia Province on July 29, 1876 is considered reliable since it was recorded by a scientific institute using good equipment and shelters with normal exposure.

The highest reliably measured temperature in Europe is 48.5C (119.3F) recorded at Catenanuova, Sicily, Italy on Aug. 10, 1999. This has recently been confirmed as authentic by the Italian Meteorological Service (Air Force).
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 316 Comments: 296
14. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
4:31 AM GMT on October 26, 2010
Quoting blairtrewin:


Probably the same way that they handled the world record wind gust (which occurred in a small-scale feature embedded in a tropical cyclone off Western Australia) - accept it as a record while noting that it was a special case. Presumably the same would apply if an F4/F5 tornado made a direct hit on an instrument site (and the instruments survived long enough to observe the peak wind speeds).


Ironically, I was the one who first brought this potential record to the attention of the 'public' weather community. The report was orginally published back in 1999 by Steve Buchan, P.G. Black, and Bob Cohen. See the blog I wrote:

http://extremeweatherguy.com/

(an early attempt at going it alone in the blogosphere!).

I sent emails to Jeff Masters and Jesse Ferrell (at accuweather.com) about this on March 13, 2009. Jeff got the ball rolling via his many contacts at ASU/WMO and other people involved with the record (including, perhaps, you Blair!). Jesse first blogged about it on March 20, 2009 on the premium version of accuweather.com,(he failed to credit me as his source).

... and, once the record was accepted, Jeff blogged about it on Jan. 27, 2010.

So I guess ANY weather record made by instruments considered acceptable by the ASU/WMO extreme weather records committee are considered good enough to accept. I suppose (like Cyclone Olivia's 'mini-vortex' wind speed of 253 or 254mph depending upon how one interprets the data) this means a heat burst temperature would be considered good enough so far as valid measurements for a world weather record.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 316 Comments: 296
13. senork
12:24 AM GMT on October 26, 2010
Highest non-laboratory temps on Earth, in my guesstimate:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Nevada test site, or maybe the Biquini Atoll..... 10,000 + degrees for a split second....

2nd highest? What's molten rock's temperature as it flows volcanically?

3rd highest.... wasn't there a satellite-measured 150+ F in the Iranian desert?

4th highest... that batch of brownies I forgot about during the Packers/Vikings game....
Member Since: July 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
12. Snowfire
9:10 PM GMT on October 25, 2010
The official record for Ayer's Rock is 45C. So the number 52C should be regarded with suspicion, at least, though it is not impossible that the bus might encounter a small hot micro-zone of some sort.
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 311
11. blairtrewin
9:05 PM GMT on October 25, 2010
Quoting weatherhistorian:
An excellent question and I was hoping someone would ask it!

The answer is I don't know how the official extreme weather committee would handle such.

Chris



Probably the same way that they handled the world record wind gust (which occurred in a small-scale feature embedded in a tropical cyclone off Western Australia) - accept it as a record while noting that it was a special case. Presumably the same would apply if an F4/F5 tornado made a direct hit on an instrument site (and the instruments survived long enough to observe the peak wind speeds).
Member Since: October 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 38
10. Bielle
4:14 PM GMT on October 25, 2010
I am interested in temperatures reported around Uluru (Ayers Rock, in case I have mispelled the aboriginal name)in January, 1985. We were on a tour there and were told, as part of a warning to wear a hat and carry water, that then then current temperature outside the bus was 52 degrees C. Is this possible? Thanks
Member Since: September 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 616
9. pegminer
3:16 PM GMT on October 25, 2010
I think there are real reasons for believing that temperatures such as the 134 F at Death Valley might be real, even though we have not seen any 130+ temperatures in recent years. Temperatures above 130 F are the most extreme temperatures to occur on Earth, so they require very very special conditions to occur. For example,you would want the solar radiation to be the absolute maximum that it can be. It could easily be that the skies of today just do not have the clarity of the skies of 80 years ago, due to dust and other aerosols. Maybe the difference is quite small, but that might make the difference between cracking the 130 barrier. Also there may be increased humidity at the locales these days, which may also hinder occurrence of absolute extremes. Maybe modern instrumentation would not have recorded a temperature of 134 F, but maybe it would have, and by looking at the differences between today and when it was recorded we can learn something about possible climate change.
Member Since: August 29, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
8. NYR0027
6:32 AM GMT on October 25, 2010
Hi Chris,

Could you please comment on the validity of the 50.0 C (122.0 F) reading measure on August 4, 1881 in Seville, Spain (considered by some to be the record for Europe)?

Many thanks,
- P
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
7. Snowfire
3:25 AM GMT on October 25, 2010
These conclusions at least provoke some thought. There seems but a razor-thin margin between the commonplace and the exceptional; while readings of 120F are frequent in some places in the world, verifying readings of 130F or higher is something that has eluded meteorologists, either because such readings really do not exist, or because of inadequacies of data collection. And the verifiable record for the Sahara is only a couple of degrees higher than that for North Dakota! Either something is at work here that wants explaining, or mankind just has not done a very good job of measuring extreme high temperatures. Perhaps some storm-chasers could be convinced to chase heat bursts after the day's tornado chase is concluded; we might learn something about these elusive events that way, and because so many of these events occur at night, the usual "overexposed instrument" objection might be less of a factor. Time will tell.
Member Since: June 29, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 311
5. nocaneindy
3:06 PM GMT on October 24, 2010
Ah part 2 at last, and as good and compelling as I hoped it would be. As a cold weather fan, I hope you have a future article with those extremes as succinct as this was.
Member Since: September 21, 2007 Posts: 34 Comments: 515
4. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
5:40 AM GMT on October 24, 2010
An excellent question and I was hoping someone would ask it!

The answer is I don't know how the official extreme weather committee would handle such.

Chris

Quoting AEKDB1990:
Suppose a heat burst does happen at a well supervised first order
station like Oklahoma City and it hits 150 at night with a heat burst
from a nearby thunderstorm for a few minutes. Would that count? Should
it count?
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 316 Comments: 296
2. pcola57
7:12 PM GMT on October 23, 2010
Thanks Chris,
Such a great post on this subject.
Once I started reading,I couldn't stop.
In depth and very interesting.
Alot of effort on your part.
You are an asset to our WU community, IMO.
Thanks again so much,
v/r
Moe
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6911
1. Neapolitan
4:04 PM GMT on October 23, 2010
Doesn't surprise me at all to see such low validity scores across the board, so many of those old records have always seemed to me to be anecdotal and quite apocryphal.

Oh, yeah: I really liked your quip about using oven thermometers. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13741

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.