The hottest place on Earth, right here in the United States

Weather

Welcome to this week’s Weather Wednesday, where we give you a deeper look inside a fun weather tidbit, or give you some knowledge that could help keep you and your family safe from dangerous weather. 

FC Weather Station

Today’s Weather Wednesday marks the anniversary of one of the most notable, and maybe controversial, weather records. On this date in 1913, the mercury reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, California. But this wasn’t always the official world record. 

From 1922 until 2012, the record belonged to El Azizia, Libya, with a measurement of 136.4 degrees. The World Meteorological Organization disqualified this record because the measurement could be inaccurate by as much as 7°C due to a combination of factors including the asphalt-like surface over which the measurement was taken, which is not a fair representation of the native desert soil.

The air temperature in Death Valley reaches a ridiculous average daily high of 115°F – making it the hottest place on Earth. It gets even hotter on the ground: a measurement of 201°F was taken on July 15, 1972, just 11 degrees away from the boiling point of water.

One of the reasons Death Valley has the hottest temperature ever recorded is because it is approximately 280 ft below sea level, and air warms as it pushed down in altitude. In addition to this, there is less than three inches of rain in the desert valley each year because the Sierra Nevada mountains block moisture from the Pacific Ocean from reaching the desert. 

There are a few other factors that keep Death Valley as one of the most extreme weather spots on earth. The valley is narrow, keeping air from circulating in or out, and there is also very little vegetation growing, which could help absorb solar radiation. But, winter temperatures can also get really cold as the desert has no way of retaining heat as the surrounding area cools off. Some mornings during the winter can hit the freezing mark with highs only in the 60s. 

Another notable record, the temperature in Death Valley on June 29, 2013, was 129 F (54 C), making it the hottest June day on record for the United States. Even during the hottest of heat waves, we’ll never even get close to the record in Death Valley.

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