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Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth: PART TWO

By: Christopher C. Burt, 5:17 AM GMT on August 19, 2016

Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth: PART TWO

In my previous blog I discussed the various contenders for what might be the hottest reliably measured air temperatures on Earth. That blog focused on those that were most likely not reliable for various reasons. In this blog I will briefly list those that I believe to be the most reliably measured. This takes into account such factors as climatology (general and specific to the sites at time of observation), properly exposed instrumentation, and good correspondence with other temperature observations in the vicinity of the record-breaking site(s).

As discussed in the conclusion in my previous blog, it would appear that the 54.0°C (129.2°F) reading measured at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21st, 2016 and the 129.2°F (54.0°C) reading observed at Furnace Creek, Death Valley, USA on June 30, 2013 are the leading contenders for hottest reliably measured temperatures yet measured on Earth. However, it should be noted that it is not evident yet that the Kuwait Meteorological Department has confirmed the validity of the Mitribah reading observed this past July.



Map of weather stations maintained by the Kuwait Meteorological Department. Mitribah is the site numbered 40551 in the far northwest of the country. Map from Kuwait Meteorological Department web site.

Also, it should be noted that as per NWS (National Weather Service) practice, temperatures at official U.S. weather sites are rounded off to the nearest full degree Fahrenheit, so the official high at Death Valley that day in June 2013 was logged at 129°F (53.9°C) not 129.2°F. It is the photographic evidence (see below) that establishes the reality of the temperature actually peaking at 129.2°F (54.0°C).



A photograph of the official Furnace Creek, Death Valley maximum recording thermometer at time of observation on Monday morning July 1, 2013 (which was for the maximum temperature measured on June 30). The photo shows a maximum of 129.2°F was reached. Observations at the site are made only at 4 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily. The shelter door is not opened at any other time in order to not affect the ambient air temperature inside the shelter. You may have seen a different image of this same thermometer on the NWS-Las Vegas web site posted July 1, 2013 that shows the temperature just shy of 129°. That is because THAT photograph was taken after the thermometer had been removed from its shelter and turned vertically, which caused the mercury to slip down the tube about 0.3°F. This photograph was taken prior to the thermometer being removed from the shelter. Photo courtesy of Death Valley National Park and NWS-Las Vegas.

Death Valley has officially measured 129°F (53.9°C) on four previous occasions prior to June 30, 2013: on July 7, 2007, July 20, 2005, July 18, 1998, and on July 20, 1960. It is, therefore, possible that the actual maximum temperature on one or all of those occasions could have ranged anywhere from 128.6°F (53.7°C) to 129.4°F (54.1°C) given the rounding issue. So in conclusion we can say that if the Kuwait figure is verified than the Mitribah temperature would be the highest ‘officially’ measured temperature yet reliably measured on Earth although we have photographic proof of an equal temperature observed in Death Valley even though this 129.2°F instance is not recognized as ‘official’ by the U.S. National Weather Service.

Following the above two cases (Mitribah and Death Valley) the other top 10 or so hottest temperatures (again I emphasize reliably) measured on Earth have occurred in either Asia or the United States. Below is the full compliment of temperatures of 127.0°F (52.8°C) to have been observed and checked for quality:

2) 53.9°C (129.0°F) Basra Int’l Airport, Iraq on July 22, 2016

3) 53.6°C (128.5°F) Sulaibiya, Kuwait on July 31, 2012

4) 53.5°C (128.3°F) Moen Jo Daro, Pakistan on May 26, 2010

5) 128.0°F (53.3°C) Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA on June 29, 1994.

6) 53.0°C (127.4°F) Turbat, Pakistan on July 1, 2002

53.0°C (127.4°F) Sibi, Pakistan on May 26, 2010

53.0°C (127.4°F) Dehloran, Iran on July 28, 2011 and July 22, 2016

53.0°C (127.4°F) Gotvand, Iran on July 17, 2014

53.0°C (127.4°F) Nassirya, Iraq on August 3, 2011

7) 52.8°C (127.0°F) Jacobabad, Pakistan on June 12, 1919

52.8°C (127.0°F) Abdaly, Kuwait on July 16, 2010

127.0°F (52.8°C) Gold Rock Ranch, California, USA on July 28, 1995

In the early record of Arizona we have a reading of 127.0°F (52.8°C) at Parker, Arizona on July 7, 1905. This is of questionable veracity since although there was good correspondence with some other sites in the region during July 1905 (125° at Aztec, 124° at Fort Mojave, Phoenix 116°, Yuma 116°), in August (1905) Parker measured 126° and at that time it was completely out of correspondence with the other regional sites (it was only 112° in Phoenix, 111° at Yuma, and 118° at nearby Fort Mohave). So it raises a red flag about the quality of this site during that summer. By the way, it is interesting to note that since the summer of 1905 the hottest temperature measured in Parker occurred just this past June (2016) when it reached 125°F.

Also worthy of a footnote is the 54.0°C (129.2°) measured at Ahwaz, Iran on July 15, 1967 and 53.0°C at Haft-Tapeh. I am not sure if these readings are officially accepted by the Iran Meteorological Organization but climate expert Maximilliano Herrera tells me that manual weather stations in Iran prior to automation in the 1990s were somewhat suspect and that their temperatures were rounded off to the nearest 0.5°C or 1.0°C degree. Since automation in the 1990s average summer maximum temperatures as well as absolute annual maximum values have been a bit cooler at many or most sites. In addition, the temperatures have been measured to the nearest 0.1°C rather than 0.5° or 1.0°C pre-automation. Following the 1967 reading the highest temperature observed in Ahwaz has been 52.2°C (126.0°F) on July 1, 2000. During the late July 2016 record-breaking heat wave Ahwaz peaked at 50.4°C (122.7°F) on July 21st (the same day as the 54.0°C Mitribah observation).

All of the above temperatures have been recorded in the Northern Hemisphere. For those interested, here are the top five hottest temperatures ever reliably measured in the Southern Hemisphere:

50.7°C (123.3°F) Oodnadatta, Australia on January 2, 1960

50.5°C (122.9°F) Mardie, Australia on February 19, 1998

50.0°C (122.0°F) Wilcannia, Australia on January 11, 1939

49.8°C (121.6°F) Emu Creek, Australia on February 21, 1998

49.8°C (121.6°F) Forrest, Australia on January 13, 1979

Africa’s hottest reliably measured temperature is 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Semara, Western Sahara on July 13, 1961

South America’s hottest reliably measured temperature is 47.3°C (117.1°F) at Campo Gallo, Argentina on October 16, 1936.

Europe’s hottest reliably measured temperature is 48.5°C (119.3°F) at Catenanuova, Sicily, Italy on August 10, 1999.

Again, I must emphasize the key to the above data is the phrase ‘reliably measured’. Hotter temperatures have been reported by many sites at different times in the past but for one reason or the other are questionable. Also, of course, hotter temperatures have obviously occurred at locations beyond the sites of official weather stations. It is entirely likely that at some location (maybe just meters or a few kilometers from an official weather site) in Kuwait or Iraq last July a temperature of 130° may have been attained. In Death Valley it is speculated that Badwater, some 15 miles south of Furnace Creek and around 100 feet lower (282 feet below sea level versus 194 feet below sea level), is actually a bit hotter than Furnace Creek during the summer months. Experimental weather stations have been set up here during the summers of 1934 and 1959-1961. In 1934 a maximum temperature of 131°F (55.0°C) was apparently measured and the 1959-1961 station reported daytime maximum temperatures averaging about 2°F-3°F hotter than those at Furnace Creek. However, the maximum observed temperature during this time was just 129° in July 1960, the same as measured in Furnace Creek.



What may be an even hotter location than Furnace Creek in Death Valley is the Badwater Water Basin located about 15 miles south and almost one hundred feet lower than the official NWS site in Furnace Creek. On previous occasions experimental, temporary weather stations measured temperatures as high as 131°F here. Photo from WikiCommons.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat

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

Reader Comments

Badwater old data was very bad and clearly overestimated.
In later years Badwater had reliable temperatures, there was NO APPRECIABLE difference between that station and Greenland Ranch, sometimes Greenland Ranch was recording even slightly higher temperatures.
The differences were in the order of 1F.
Of all of this, the thing that I find most interesting is that the Lake Havasu site has been within about 1F of the Death Valley site. So, although the Lower Colorado River Valley (LCRV) is not consistently as very hot as Death Valley, with the right conditions the extremes there can be just about as hot. This makes me wonder if there is not another site in the LCRV that rivals Death Valley (and Kuwait/Iraq/Iran) at it most extreme. I guess it is like the Iran desert. We won't know until someone actually goes and puts a few experimental stations up.

Thank you so much for looking into this (and Maximillian who I am sure helped as well). I cannot wait for you to do another one on extreme rainfall, which is my real passion.
Quoting 3. weatherdogg:

Of all of this, the thing that I find most interesting is that the Lake Havasu site has been within about 1F of the Death Valley site. So, although the Lower Colorado River Valley (LCRV) is not consistently as very hot as Death Valley, with the right conditions the extremes there can be just about as hot. This makes me wonder if there is not another site in the LCRV that rivals Death Valley (and Kuwait/Iraq/Iran) at it most extreme. I guess it is like the Iran desert. We won't know until someone actually goes and puts a few experimental stations up.

Thank you so much for looking into this (and Maximillian who I am sure helped as well). I cannot wait for you to do another one on extreme rainfall, which is my real passion.


In fact, there are issues for the Lake Havasu readings in mid 90s, because a problem of its aspirator.
The real max. temperature in June 1994 might have been around 126.5F instead 128F.
I don't see any spot in the USA or North America which can rival the Death Valley in terms of absolute maximum temperatures, they can beat it in spared occasions , depending on the configuration (July 1995 heat wave was more concentered south around the border with Mexico, while the one of June 1994 was more intense between mid-south California , Nevada and northern Arizona.
And what about these figures measured in this year? They are not in your table. Are they not reliable?

53,8 C 22/07/2016 Bassorah-Hussen (Irak)
53,4 C 21/07/2016 Bassorah International Airport (Irak)
53,1 C 22/07/2016 Mitribah
53,0 C 21/07/2016 Bassorah-Hussen (Irak)
52,9 C 20/07/2016 Mitribah (Koweit)

Maybe you take only the highest figure from one station, but Basra Hussen is not the same station as Basra Airport.

http://www.geoclimat.org/2016/05/temperatures-max imales-superieures-ou.html
Quoting 5. MichalBogar:

And what about these figures measured in this year? They are not in your table. Are they not reliable?

53,8 %uFFFDC 22/07/2016 Bassorah-Hussen (Irak)
53,4 %uFFFDC 21/07/2016 Bassorah International Airport (Irak)
53,1 %uFFFDC 22/07/2016 Mitribah
53,0 %uFFFDC 21/07/2016 Bassorah-Hussen (Irak)
52,9 %uFFFDC 20/07/2016 Mitribah (Koweit)

Maybe you take only the highest figure from one station, but Basra Hussen is not the same station as Basra Airport.

http://www.geoclimat.org/2016/05/temperatures-max imales-superieures-ou.html



Exactly. They are at a short distance . One of them is located right on the tarmac which is not really proper.
The other one is located between buildings.
I rule out in this case that some areas can have recorded 130F or more like Chris said, all the opposite, in not covered areas the temperature was certainly slightly lower than 54C,which was taken in places with infrastructures of concrete and asphalt.
After a century of illusions and fake records, people still dream about magic spots and isolated magic areas which are surely hotter, in fact, in this case local geography contradicts those assumptions.
There are no differences in altitudes in those plains or appreciable differences of microclimates: those stations have recorded 54C in acceptable conditions (mankind infrastrctures are part of our environment) but concrete and asphalt play surely a small role in those microareas (a Google Earth zoom suffices to understand that), so i believe in fact those were EXACTLY the hottest points there and those temperatures between 53.8C and 54.0C were indeed the highest of the whole area, without any imaginary "magic hot spot".
This is the excuse always used to explain all hundreds of fake records around the world.
Of course , in other areas of the planet, there are hot areas which are not fully covered by weather stations like some inner areas of Iran, few spots in Africa and so on..
In this case there are not.

Answering your question: yes, since both Basra stations are at short distance, we have used a single "Basra" record. Highest temperature for each station was used to make a simple list.
Great blog, as usual, Christopher! It's always great to filter the non-standard data.
The NWS should establish an automated site (ASOS or, at least, AWOS) in Badwater. It would be interesting to compare it long-term with the current Furnace Creek station's data.

As Furnace Creek now has a good bit of landscaping (trees, bushes, and grass), do you think this might inhibit maximum temperature extremes compared to the past? Might it be enough to increase the relative humidity, and possibly keep minimum temperatures elevated?
Quoting 7. BelmontJeff:

Great blog, as usual, Christopher! It's always great to filter the non-standard data.
The NWS should establish an automated site (ASOS or, at least, AWOS) in Badwater. It would be interesting to compare it long-term with the current Furnace Creek station's data.


Badwater had very bad data for a number of years,but during the few years when the station was reliable its maximum temperatures were absolutely similar to those of Greenland Ranch. Summer daily temperatures had differences usually within 1F.
Well,it's true that an eventual 1F more could us the first reliable 130F ever recorded in the planet. That's alone would justify the cost of a new ASOS.
Iranian meteorological service is also planning a synoptical station in one of the lowest and hottest points of the Dash el Lut desert. It could be a new contender in the rush to the first 130F,although it wouldn't be easy anyway since the Dash el Lut minimum elevation is few hundreds feet above sea level.
Quoting 8. maxcrc:



Badwater had very bad data for a number of years,but during the few years when the station was reliable its maximum temperatures were absolutely similar to those of Greenland Ranch. Summer daily temperatures had differences usually within 1F.
Well,it's true that an eventual 1F more could us the first reliable 130F ever recorded in the planet. That's alone would justify the cost of a new ASOS.
Iranian meteorological service is also planning a synoptical station in one of the lowest and hottest points of the Dash el Lut desert. It could be a new contender in the rush to the first 130F,although it wouldn't be easy anyway since the Dash el Lut minimum elevation is few hundreds feet above sea level.



Great to see this news about the Iran station in the Dash el Lut desert that is planned!
Quoting 9. BelmontJeff:



Great to see this news about the Iran station in the Dash el Lut desert that is planned!


In fact, there are already several stations in the Dash el Lut desert, but the planned one would be in perhaps its (potentially) hottest area.
They want to build a "serious" station,a synoptical international station with a WMO code in order to have undisputed data.
The problems are the isolated area and the risk of floods, which in that "bowl" could be triggered by just a shower . It could flood everything including the weather station and also putting in danger the life of the personnel (since they want to build a manned station, not an AWS).
So we will see whether this project will move on.
First off, I want it clearly known that I am not a weather nut, guru, or nerd. But I do find nature and weather fascinating.

So here's my 3 cents worth: It doesn't matter to me whether it is 125F or 129.2F. That is just flat out hot, and I surely would not want to spend ANY time at all, in a location with such extremes. Very entertaining blog however. TY.
Was wondering if someone could help me understand the dynamics at play that result in these record high temperatures, specifically regarding the elevation component? Basically, in looking at the above photo of the Badwater Water Basin, I'm wondering what factors cause just a hundred or so feet of elevation to make such a difference? Or is it just that we are talking about mere fractions of a degree here? Microclimates and their causes are very interesting to me. Great read - thanks for posting.
New record high for the month of September in Asia.
A daily high of 50.5 °C was recorded in Mitribah, on September the 2nd.
For an inhabited place the record is 50.2 °C, also measured today in Al Jahra,
both locations are situated in Kuwait.

http://www.geoclimat.org/

The world record is 126 °F (value in °C could range from 51.9 °C to 52.4 °C), measured in Mecca, CA on September 2nd in 1950. A value hard to believe for me, when I look at the daily records five days before and after (Min/Max in F):
72/107, 76/110, 73/110, 77/110, 83/117, 89/126, 79/112, 85/115, 87/107, 81/103, 71/92, compared
to those of Pam Springs:
77/111, 78/115, 78/114, 80/118, 82/121, 84/115, 72/110, 82/104, 81/102, 71/93, 73/93
The distance between both places is about 50 km. So ist there an rational explanation for the 126 °F or is it another faulty/unreliable value.
I also looked at the daily data for Thermal, about 15 km/10 mi from Mecca, the data being congruent to Palm Springs':
73/111, 86/113, 76/111, 74/120, 76/123, 89/113, 80/114, 83/107, 85/104, 71/91, 71/94
Although Climatological Data has the Mecca date of the 126° as Sept. 2nd, I believe the actual date was Sept. 1st (for some COOP sites they list the daily high for the day before and the daily low for the day listed). This is confusing but I've seen a lot of this in the Climatological Data sections (including for the Death Valley 129° on June 30, 2013, which is listed in Climatological data as July 1, 2013 since the observation was made at 7 a.m. on July 1st the high was for June 30th not July 1st. Also on Sept. 1st, 1950 we had the USWB in Yuma measure 123°, Thermal also 123°, etc..so I think the Mecca figure (for Sept. 1st not Sept. 2nd) is quite possible.
Quoting 13. ChateauChalon:

New record high for the month of September in Asia.
A daily high of 50.5 °C was recorded in Mitribah, on September the 2nd.
For an inhabited place the record is 50.2 °C, also measured today in Al Jahra,
both locations are situated in Kuwait.

http://www.geoclimat.org/

The world record is 126 °F (value in °C could range from 51.9 °C to 52.4 °C), measured in Mecca, CA on September 2nd in 1950. A value hard to believe for me, when I look at the daily records five days before and after (Min/Max in F):
72/107, 76/110, 73/110, 77/110, 83/117, 89/126, 79/112, 85/115, 87/107, 81/103, 71/92, compared
to those of Pam Springs:
77/111, 78/115, 78/114, 80/118, 82/121, 84/115, 72/110, 82/104, 81/102, 71/93, 73/93
The distance between both places is about 50 km. So ist there an rational explanation for the 126 °F or is it another faulty/unreliable value.
I also looked at the daily data for Thermal, about 15 km/10 mi from Mecca, the data being congruent to Palm Springs':
73/111, 86/113, 76/111, 74/120, 76/123, 89/113, 80/114, 83/107, 85/104, 71/91, 71/94
Link

There is 51,2 C right now in Mitribah. Maximum will be announced at 21 GMT (I think so)
Thanks for closing this knowledge gap about the observation time. The temperature trends (of the three stations) do fit together and the temperature record makes sense now.

Quoting 14. weatherhistorian:

Although Climatological Data has the Mecca date of the 126° as Sept. 2nd, I believe the actual date was Sept. 1st (for some COOP sites they list the daily high for the day before and the daily low for the day listed). This is confusing but I've seen a lot of this in the Climatological Data sections (including for the Death Valley 129° on June 30, 2013, which is listed in Climatological data as July 1, 2013 since the observation was made at 7 a.m. on July 1st the high was for June 30th not July 1st. Also on Sept. 1st, 1950 we had the USWB in Yuma measure 123°, Thermal also 123°, etc..so I think the Mecca figure (for Sept. 1st not Sept. 2nd) is quite possible.
Has anyone considered adjusting the apparent reading of the thermometer in the Furnace Creek photograph due to parallax? It appears to me the camera was positioned perpendicular to the thermometer around the 125 degF mark (graduation at 125 degF appears straight vs. apparent curved graduations at 120 and 130 degF). For an accurate apparent reading, the camera should be centered directly perpendicular to the end of the mercury column around 129.2 degF. Adjusting for parallax, the actual thermometer reading would be greater than the apparent reading in the photograph. Thus, the actual temperature reading in the photograph is greater than 129.2 degF. I believe the difference between the apparent and actual reading could be determined if the dimensions of the thermometer, the distance between the camera and thermometer, and the camera/lens characteristics were known.
Quoting 17. 0767ED49:

Has anyone considered adjusting the apparent reading of the thermometer in the Furnace Creek photograph due to parallax? It appears to me the camera was positioned perpendicular to the thermometer around the 125 degF mark (graduation at 125 degF appears straight vs. apparent curved graduations at 120 and 130 degF). For an accurate apparent reading, the camera should be centered directly perpendicular to the end of the mercury column around 129.2 degF. Adjusting for parallax, the actual thermometer reading would be greater than the apparent reading in the photograph. Thus, the actual temperature reading in the photograph is greater than 129.2 degF. I believe the difference between the apparent and actual reading could be determined if the dimensions of the thermometer, the distance between the camera and thermometer, and the camera/lens characteristics were known.


Actually it is absolutely useles to post such a question for simply reason.
US rules do not take in acount any numbers after decimal point.
Or all the records are officialy rounded.
So after me, if the photo is not an official document about the temperature (so I think), we have US record 129 °F, not 129,2 °F or 129,3 °C or so.
There are a couple of points I take issue with:
First, are official temperatures still recorded by reading mercury thermometers??? Seems like an archaic and potentially unreliable method compared to electronic systems which can be calibrated and checked to high levels of accuracy, precision and repeatability.
Next, the thermometer depicted has divisions spaced at one degree apart. In accordance with measurement standards the uncertainty of the measurement is equal to one division. So, a value above 129 but below 130 should really be recorded as 129 +/- 1 degree to within a degree of uncertainty. Since the mercury looks like it is less than a quarter of the way between the degree marks we can use the one fifth rule to estimate a more precise value - this would yield an estimated value of 129.2 +/- 0.2 degrees.
Of course, you can get a more accurate and precise reading from a thermometer by taking a photograph and estimate values by taking measurements from the image. There will still be the issue of parallax to deal with depending on where the camera is positioned. Regardless of how a value is obtained from the mercury thermometer, it will still be less accurate and precise than an electronic measurement system.
Hottest day in September in Europe?

There were temperatures above 45C in Spain yesterday (with max 45,4C) and also 45,1 C right now in Cordoba.
These are september records in many spanish towns.
My question is: Are there any higher temperature readings in Europe in the month of September?

My facebook post about it:
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid =446005108903288&id=287853961385071

Link

Hottest day in September in Europe.
Without question mark.
45,7 C at Montoro today.
Link
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