Death Valley hits highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth

A temperature of 54.4C (129.9F) has been recorded in California during an intense heatwave – the hottest reading ever reliably taken on the planet.

An automated station for the United States National Weather Service at Furnace Creek in Death Valley recorded the extreme heat at 3.41pm on Sunday.

It is the hottest weather since 56.6C (134F) was registered at the same place on 10 July 1913 – but the accuracy of that reading has long been disputed by experts.

The thermometer outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center reads a few degrees higher than the actual temperature Pic: Park Ranger Caroline Rohe
Image:The thermometer outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center reads a few degrees higher than the actual temperature Pic: Park Ranger Caroline Rohe

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) installed the 1913 reading as the Earth’s hottest after an investigation dismissed a temperature of 58C (136F), which was said to have been recorded in Libya in September 1922.

Another older reading of 55C (131F) taken in Tunisia in July 1931 has also been challenged.

In addition, the 1913 Death Valley heat has been questioned as “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective”.

Some experts believe modern readings of 54C (129F) at Death Valley on 30 June 2013 and in Kuwait in 2016 and Pakistan in 2017 are the most reliably recorded top temperatures on the planet.

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But it still means Sunday’s extreme heat at Death Valley has seen the conditions named as officially the hottest on record.

As the temperature soared, humidity fell to just 7%. Death Valley is close to the Californian border with Nevada and is the driest and hottest location in the US.

A sign warns of extreme heat at Death Valley National Park in California
Image:A sign warns of extreme heat at Death Valley in California, which is famous for its sweltering conditions

It came as a warning was issued in California due to wildfires burning near the Nevada border.

Experts say extreme temperatures will become more and more common over time due to climate change.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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