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Death Valley tops 130 F, setting possible global heat record

A photo shows Death Valley, California's Bad Water Basin. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

California's Death Valley recorded what may be its hottest ever temperature on Sunday (Aug. 16) — a blazing 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius).

If that National Weather Service (NWS) measurement holds up, it will have been the hottest August temperature recorded there by 3 F (1.7 C), the hottest temperature recorded in Death Valley National Park in at least a century, and one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded anywhere in the world.

The mercury hit 130 F at 3:41 p.m. PDT, in the midst of a heatwave that has triggered power outages and wildfires across the American Southwest, as The Los Angeles Times reported.

Related: Hell on Earth: Take a photo tour of Death Valley

Does the 130 F reading represent the world temperature record? Depends on who you ask. The World Meteorological Organization reports that the highest temperature ever recorded was 134 F (56.7 C) on July 10, 1913, at the same site: Death Valley's aptly named Furnace Creek Ranch. But Christopher Burt, investigating the claim for The Weather Underground in 2016, cast doubt that the 134 F recording was accurate.

Another measurement, taken in 1931 in Kebili, Tunisia, was also higher than this year's, at 131 F (55.0 C). But there are also doubts about that claim, as The Washington Post noted.

The next universally agreed-upon record temperature was 129.0 F (53.9 C) in Death Valley on July 1, 2013. This new measurement, if confirmed, tops that.

Other local records were set across the southwest Sunday, including in two of America's largest cities: Los Angeles and Phoenix. This has been a particularly brutal summer in Phoenix, where the average temperature in July was 99 F (37.2 C), another record, according to KTAR News.

All these records arrive as global climate conditions rapidly deteriorate. For instance, the Arctic is ablaze with wildfires for the second year in a row, which scientists worry means we have entered a global "fire regime" that even pessimistic climate change models didn't anticipate arriving until around the 2050s, according to The Post.

Originally published on Live Science.

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  • Lovethrust
    I find it ironic the picture you use looks like a frosty morning on Mars!
    Reply
  • Dr Bugsy
    The chart in the article shows that it was 134 degrees in 1918.
    Reply