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Bolivia ties its all-time heat record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:25 PM GMT on November 23, 2010

Bolivia tied its all-time hottest temperature mark on October 29, when the mercury hit 46.7°C (116.1°F) at Villamontes. This ties the record set in Villamontes on three other dates: November 9, 2007, November 1980, and December 1980.

The year 2010 now has the most national extreme heat records for a single year--nineteen, plus one island territory, the UK's Ascension Island. These nations comprise 20% of the total land area of Earth. This is the largest area of Earth's surface to experience all-time record high temperatures in any single year in the historical record. Looking back at the past decade, which was the hottest decade in the historical record, seventy-five counties set extreme hottest temperature records (33% of all countries.) For comparison, fifteen countries set extreme coldest temperature records over the past ten years (6% of all countries). My source for extreme weather records is the excellent book Extreme Weather by Chris Burt. His new updates (not yet published) remove a number of old disputed records. Keep in mind that the matter of determining extreme records is very difficult, and it is often a judgment call as to whether an old record is reliable or not. The World Meteorological Organization is currently in the process of contacting all nineteen of the nations I list here to see if the records can be officially verified. So far, the records in Finland and Pakistan have been officially verified, and it appears likely that the records in Belarus and Ukraine will also have official sanction.

Figure 1. Climate Central put together a nice graphic showing the nations that have set new extreme heat records in 2010, which I've updated to include Bolivia.

Other national all-time extreme heat records set in 2010
Zambia recorded its hottest temperature in history Wednesday, October 13, when the mercury hit 42.4°C (108.3°F) in Mfuwe. The previous record was 42.3°C (108.1°F) set on November 17, 2005 in Mfuwe.

Belarus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 6, 2010, when the mercury hit 38.9°C (102.0°F) in Gorky. The previous record was 38.0°C (100.4°F) set at Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946.

Ukraine recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury hit 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Lukhansk on August 12, 2010. The previous record was set at the same location on August 1, 2010--41.3°C (106.3°F). Ukraine also reached 41.3°C on July 20 and 21, 2007, at Voznesensk.

Cyprus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 1, 2010 when the mercury hit 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Lefconica. The old record for Cyprus was 44.4°C (111.9°F) at Lefkosia in August 1956. An older record of 46.6°C from July 1888 was reported from Nicosia, but is of questionable reliability.

Finland recorded its hottest temperature on July 29, 2010, when the mercury hit 37.2°C (99°F) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jyvaskyla on July 9, 1914. The previous official record was 35.9°C at Turku in July 1914, but this reading has been disputed by weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera as being unreliable due improper siting of the instrument too close to tall buildings.

Qatar had its hottest temperature in history on July 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 50.4°C (122.7°F) at Doha Airport. The previous record was 49.6°C in July 2000 at the same location. There are other stations in Qatar,but only the Doha International Airport has reliable data.

Russia had its hottest temperature in history on July 12, when the mercury rose to 45.4°C (113.7°F) at the Utta hydrological station in the Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. This station is not under control of the Russian meteorological service, and may not be 100% reliable. A reading of 44.0°C (111.2°F) was also recorded in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, on July 11. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) at a non-automated station was the 43.8°C (110.8°F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The previous hottest temperature at an automated station was 45.0°C recorded in August 1940 at El'ton. The remarkable heat in Russia this year has not been limited just to the European portion of the country--the Asian portion of Russia also recorded its hottest temperature in history this year, a 42.7°C (108.9°F) reading at Ust Kara, in the Chita Republic on June 27. The 42.3°C (108.1°F) reading on June 25 at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China, also beat the old record for the Asian portion of Russia. The previous record for the Asian portion of Russia was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Aksha on July 21, 2004.

Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history on June 22 when the mercury rose to 49.7°C (121.5°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

Niger tied its record for hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.1°C (116.8°F) at Bilma. That record stood for just one day, as Bilma broke the record again on June 23, when the mercury topped out at 48.2°C (118.8°F). The previous record was 47.1°C on May 24, 1998, also at Bilma.

Saudi Arabia had its hottest temperature ever on June 22, 2010, with a reading of 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F), at Abqaiq, date unknown. The record heat was accompanied by a sandstorm, which caused eight power plants to go offline, resulting in blackouts to several Saudi cities.

Chad had its hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) at Faya. The previous record was 47.4°C (117.3°F) at Faya on June 3 and June 9, 1961, but old readings at this station, particularly in the 1950s, were affected by over-exposure of the instrument to sun.

Kuwait recorded its hottest temperature in history on June 15 in Abdaly, according to the Kuwait Met office. The mercury hit 52.6°C (126.7°F). Kuwait's previous all-time hottest temperature was 51.9°C (125.4°F), on July 27,2007, at Abdaly. Temperatures reached 51°C (123.8°F) in the capital of Kuwait City on June 15, 2010. There were some readings as high as 54°C at Mitribah this summer, but the intrument there was found to be out of calibration.

Iraq had its hottest day in history on June 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Basra. Iraq's previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F) set August 8, 1937, in Ash Shu'aybah.

Pakistan had its hottest temperature in history on May 26, when the mercury hit an astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) at the town of MohenjuDaro, according to the Pakistani Meteorological Department. While this temperature reading must be reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for authenticity, not only is the 128.3°F reading the hottest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan, it is the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on the continent of Asia. The old Pakistani record was 52.8°C (127°F) at Jacobabad in 1919.

Myanmar (Burma) had its hottest temperature in its recorded history on May 14, when the mercury hit 47.2°C (117.0°F) in Myinmu. This broke the record of 47.0°C set at the same location two days previous (May 12.) Myanmar's previous hottest temperature was 46.0°C (114.4°F) at Magwe in May, 1980. According to Chris Burt, author of the authoritative weather records book Extreme Weather, the 47.2°C measured this year is the hottest temperature in Southeast Asia history.

Nigeria had its hottest temperature in history on April 3, 2010, when the mercury hit 46.4°C (115.6°F) at Yola..

Ascension Island (St. Helena, a U.K. Territory) had its hottest temperature in history on March 25, 2010, when the mercury hit 34.9°C (94.8°F) at Georgetown. The previous record was 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Georgetown in April 2003, exact day unknown.

The Solomon Islands had their hottest temperature in history on February 1, 2010, when the mercury hit 36.1°C (97°F) at Honiara Henderson. The previous record for the Solomon Islands was 35.6°C (96.0°F) at Honaiara, date unknown.

Colombia had its hottest reliably measured temperature in history on January 24, 2010, when Puerto Salgar hit 42.3°C (108°F). The previous record was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at El Salto in March 1988 and April 1998 (exact day unknown.)

Also Notable
China set its all-time heat record for an inhabited place on June 20, 2010, when the mercury hit 48.7°C (119.7°F) at Toyoq. The all-time heat record for China is 49.7°C (121.5°F) on August 3, 2008 at the Aydingkol automatic weather station at the uninhabited Ading Lake in the Turfan Depression in Northwest China.

Martinique, an island in the Caribbean that is a French territory, set what may be its hottest reliably measured temperature record in September, when the mercury hit 36.2°C (97.2°F) at Francois Chopotte. The current all-time record is 36.5°C (97.7°F) in April 1983 at St. Pierre Observatory, but this measurement was taken with older equipment that may not be reliable.

The occupied west bank of Palestine, the portion of Israel that declared independence in 1988 but is not recognized by all nations as a sovereign country, recorded its hottest temperature in history on August 7, 2010, when the temperature hit 51.4°C (124.5°F) at Kibbutz Almog (also called Qalya or Kalya) in the Jordan Valley. The previous record for this portion of Israel was set on June 22, 1942, at the same location.

All-time national heat records were missed by 1°C or less in many other nations this summer, including the Azores, Morocco, Estonia, and Latvia.

National cold records set in 2010
No nations set record for their coldest temperature in history in 2010. I regret reporting earlier this year that Guinea had done so. Guinea actually had its coldest temperature in history last year, on January 9, 2009, when the mercury hit 1.4°C (34.5°F) at Mali-ville in the Labe region.

Extensive credit for researching these records goes to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, who maintains a comprehensive set of extreme temperature records on his web site. I also thank I thank Christopher C. Burt and Howard Rainford for their assistance identifying this year's new extreme temperature records.

The period January - October was the warmest such 10-month period in the planet's history, and temperatures over Earth's land regions were at record highs in May, June, and July, according to the National Climatic Data Center. It is not a surprise that many all-time extreme heat records are being shattered when the planet as a whole is so warm. Global warming "loads the dice" to favor extreme heat events unprecedented in recorded history. In fact, it may be more appropriate to say that global warming adds more spots on the dice--it used to be possible to roll no higher than double sixes, and now it is possible to roll a thirteen.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday, when I plan to discuss how La Niña may affect the coming winter in North America.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.