Scorching heatwaves in the Western United States, an increasingly common occurrence in recent decades due to climate change, has caused extreme temperatures in the region in past weeks. On August 16, the town of Furnace Creek in Death Valley recorded a record temperature of 130°F (54°C). Heat records in the West usually fall in July, as it is most commonly the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere.
According to the National Weather Service, “In July 2013, it last reached 129°F. If valid, it would be the hottest August temperature at the site by 3°F.” The last dependable record at Death Valley was 127°F, if verified this record would be one of the top three hottest temperatures ever recorded and could be the highest reliable temperature recorded in history. The record set in 1913 of 134°F in the same town in Death Valley seems to be debatable, as the conditions at the time make it almost impossible to reach that high of a temperature. The second hottest temperature recorded was in Kebili, Tunisia, which is also criticized and is said to have some “credibility issues.” Without considering these two records, the 130°F reading in Death Valley would hold as the hottest temperature ever recorded.
Brandi Stewart, who works at Death Valley National Park describes working and living there as, “When you walk outside it’s like being hit in the face with a bunch of hair dryers, you feel the heat and it’s like walking into an oven and the heat is just all around you.” Death Valley sits in the lowest location in the continental United States and is notorious for its immense and unbearable heat.
Aside from holding the record of the hottest temperature ever recorded, Death Valley also holds the title of having the hottest month ever recorded on the planet. In July 2018, it had averaged 108.1°F and had hit at least 120°F consecutively in 21 days. The verification process for making the temperature recorded in Death Valley as reliable will take months as an international committee uses advanced equipment to question any flaws that could have caused a misreading. Although, the chances are very high for this record to be verified as it was recorded on one of the National Weather Service automated observation systems.