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Extreme temperatures of 2011: 7 national all-time heat records; 1 cold record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:14 PM GMT on January 13, 2012

The year 2011 was the tenth warmest year on record for the globe, but the warmest year on record when a La Niña event was present (Ricky Rood has a discussion of this in his lastest post.) Seven nations and one territory broke all-time hottest temperature records. This is a far cry from 2010 (which tied for the warmest year on record), when twenty nations (plus one UK territory) set all-time hottest temperature records. One all-time coldest temperature record was set in 2011; this was the first time since 2009 one of these records was set. The all-time cold record occurred in Zambia, which ironically also set an all-time hottest temperature record in 2011. Here, then, are the most most notable extreme temperatures globally in 2011, courtesy of weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera:

Hottest temperature in the world in 2011: 53.3°C (127.9°F) in Mitrabah, Kuwait, August 3
Coldest temperature in the world in 2011: -80.2°C (-112.4°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, September 18
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 49.4°C (120.9°F) at Roebourne, Australia, on December 21
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -67.2°C (-89°F) at Summit, Greenland, March 18. This is also the coldest March temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.
Hottest undisputed 24-hour minimum temperature in world history: A minimum temperature of 41.7°C (107°F) measured at Khasab Airport in Oman on June 27

Figure 1. Seven countries and one territory set all-time hottest temperature records in 2011, and one nation set an all-time coldest temperature record. Image credit: Ilissa Ocko, Princeton University.

New country hottest temperature records set in 2011
Iraq recorded its hottest temperature on record on August 3, 2011 in Tallil (Ali military airbase), when the mercury hit 53°C (127.4°F). The previous record was 52.3°C recorded at Diwanya FOB airbase a few days before.

Armenia recorded its hottest temperature on record on July 31 in Meghri, when the mercury hit 43.7°C (110.7°F). The previous record was 43.1°C in Meghri on July 17, 2005.

Iran recorded its hottest temperature in its history on July 28, 2011, when the mercury hit 53°C (127.4°F) at Dehloran. The previous previous record was set just one day earlier at Omidieh and Shoshtar, when the mercury hit 52.6°C (126.6°F). Older hotter temperatures have been measured in Iran using automated stations, but these temperatures have been found to be overestimated.

Kuwait recorded its hottest temperature on record on August 3, 2011, when the mercury hit 53.3°C (127.9°F) at Mitrabah. The previous record was 53.1°C in Sulaibiya on June 15, 2010. The Kuwait Meteorological Center confirmed the reading as authentic, though the temperature sensor had problems between 2009 and July 2010. Some temperatures as high as 53.5°C measured at the Kuwait City Airport during 2011 were in error. The 53.3°C (127.9°F) at Mitrabah thus represents:

1) The hottest temperature measured on Earth in 2011
2) New official national record for Kuwait
3) Second highest (undisputed) temperature ever recorded in Asia
4) Highest temperature ever recorded in an Arabic country
5) Third hottest location in the planet together with Lake Havasu City, AZ (after Death
Valley, CA and Moenjodaro, Pakistan)
6) A new world record for August

China broke its national heat record for both uninhabited and inhabited locations on July 14, 2011, when the temperature soared to 50.2°C (122.4°F) at a automatic station near Adyngkol Lake (just south of Turfan), and 49.4°C (120.9°F) at the town of Tuyoq. A higher reading of 50.7°C at Aydingkol Mirabilite on 23 July 1986 has not been verified as official by the Chinese.

Republic of the Congo set a new all-time extreme heat record on March 8, 2011, when the temperature hit 39.2°C (102.6°F) at M'Pouya. Congo's previous all-time hottest temperature was 39.0°C (102.2°F) at Impfondo on May 14, 2005.

Zambia set an all-time national heat record of 109.0°F (42.8°C) at Mfuwe, on October 26, 2011, breaking the previous national record of 108.1°F (42.3°C) also set at Mfuwe, on November 17, 2010. A no longer functioning station at Lusitu, Zambia measured a higher temperature in November 1990, but surrounding stations were all about 10°C cooler, so the Lusitu 1990 reading is considered unreliable.

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands Territory tied its all-time hottest temperature record when Europa Island recorded 35.6°C (96.1°F) on November 12, 2011. The previous record was set at Juan de Nova Island on March 31, 1997.

New country coldest temperature records set in 2011
For the first time since 2009, a new national extreme cold temperature record was set. Zambia set an all-time national cold record of -9°C (16°F) at Choma on June 27, 2011, breaking the previous national record of -8°C (18°F), set on July 10, 1898, at Nalisa Western Province.

Special mention:
Russia had its hottest temperature on record at a regular synoptic reporting staion on July 30, 2011, when the mercury hit 44.3°C (111.7°F) at Divnoe in Russia's Kalmykia Republic. Three hotter temperatures have been recorded at automated stations: 45.4°C in 2010 at a hydrological station at Utta, plus readings of 45°C at El'ton and 44.5°C at Verhjnky Baskunkak in August 1940.

Weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera is the primary source of the weather records listed here and has worked tremendously hard to research them. He maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.

Other posts looking back at the remarkable weather events of 2011
U.S. weather in 2011: unprecedented rains and wet/dry extremes
Top ten global weather events of 2011
2011: Year of the Tornado
Deadliest weather disaster of 2011: the East African drought
Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?
Wettest year on record in Philadelphia; 2011 sets record for wet/dry extremes in U.S.
Hurricane Irene: New York City dodges a potential storm surge mega-disaster

Figure 2. Portlight volunteers help distribute bottled water in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Weather Underground renews as National Sponsor of Portlight Disaster Relief
This week, wunderground put out a press release in concert with Portlight Strategies, Inc.--a national grassroots non-profit organization--that Weather Underground, Inc., will again be a National Sponsor of Portlight Disaster Relief.

Hundreds of members of the wunderground.com blog community have teamed with Portlight Strategies, Inc., throughout the last three and a half years to provide much needed relief services and supplies to victims and survivors of several natural disasters, both domestically and internationally.

These relief efforts focused on helping people with disabilities, as well as people in small towns and rural areas often marginalized by the larger institutional relief infrastructure.

Portlight Strategies, Inc., has committed to building on the stunning success of this collaborative, grassroots initiative.

"Weather Underground stepping up to be one of our National Sponsors again in 2012 is a huge honor", said Paul Timmons, Jr., Portlight Strategies, Inc., Board Chair.

"We are very pleased to continue our support of Portlight Strategies because they make a real difference to otherwise neglected communities that are affected by weather-related disasters around the globe", added Alan Steremberg, President and co-founder of Weather Underground.

Visit the Portlight blog on wunderground to learn more. Donations are always welcome!

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

Climate Summaries Extreme Weather

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