Featured Image: The sailing stones of Death Valley
Sunday, 17 June 2018, New York, NY – It’s mid June, and summer is here. In coastal parts of the country, the extremes of summer and winter are mitigated by the ocean, but in most parts of the country, the ocean is not there to provide much needed relief, and intolerable temperatures result. Because summer has arrived, and because we can’t think of anything else to write about, we decided to take a look at some extreme weather records, both hot and cold.
Prior to 2012, the Sahara desert village of Azizia, Libya, held the record for the highest recorded temperature on earth, at 57.8 °C (136.0 °F) recorded in September 1922. Since then, the record has been decertified by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the current record holder is the Death Valley village of Furnace Creek, CA, with a chilly 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) recorded in July 1913.
Obviously, Death Valley is no stranger to extreme temperature records. All the villages surrounding Furnace Creek also have inviting names, specifically, Stovepipe Wells and Teakettle Junction. And even within Death Valley, Furnace Creek is particularly famous for its soaring temperatures. Not only does it hold the record for the highest air temperature, it also holds the record for the highest surface temperature ever recorded, at 93.9 °C (201 °F) recorded in July 1972.
It gets so hot in Furnace Creek that the National Park Service has to close the lodging during the summer, as temperatures regularly surpass 52 °C (125°F).
It gets so hot in Furnace Creek that the Furnace Creek Golf Course holds a summer tournament called the Heatstroke Open, which drew a field of 48 in 2011. We’re not sure how many golfers actually got hospitalised, though.
It gets so hot in Furnace Creek that in July, the average temperature is 46.9 °C (116.5°F) with an average precipitation of 1.8 mm (0.07 in), and for the entire year, the average temperature is 33 °C (91.4 °F) with an average precipitation of 59.9 mm (2.36 in).
The yearly figures aren’t so bad, but nevertheless, the conditions in Furnace Creek are inhospitable and yet it still manages to be a full-fledged, legitimate community. It has a population of 24 people, a restaurant, cafe, store, petrol station, and two campgrounds, as well as the visitor centre, museum, and headquarters of Death Valley National Park. There is even an airport, which is located 1.2 km (0.75 mi) west of the park headquarters.
Other notable highs:
- Marble Bar, Western Australia, holds the record for most consecutive days above 100 °F – 160 days, from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924.
- Death Valley holds the record for most consecutive days above 120 °F – 43 days, from 6 July through 17 August, 1917.
- Needles, CA, in the vicinity of Death Valley, holds the record for highest temperature during rain, at 46.1 °C (115.0 °F) in August 2012.
- Khasab, Oman, holds the record for the highest overnight low temperature, at 44.2 °C (111.6 °F) in June 2017. Imagine trying to fall asleep in that.
- Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, holds the humidity record for highest dew point ever recorded, at 35 °C (95 °F) in July 2003.
The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2 °C (-128.5 °F), at Lake Vostok, Antarctica, in July 1983 (July is winter in the Southern Hemisphere). An absence of solar radiation, clear skies, little vertical mixing, calm air for a long duration, and high elevation were responsible for the record low.
Of course, Antarctica is not a place permanently inhabited by humans. For this category, the record holder is the Siberian village of Oymyakon, Russia, which reached a temperature of -68 °C (-90.4 °F) in 1933, which is also the coldest temperature ever recorded outside of Antarctica. Despite this, Oymyakon had 500 inhabitants in 2011.
If it ever seems like summer or winter is unbearable, keep in mind that those temperatures are nothing compared to the temperatures that are actually possible on Earth. So be glad that you’re not living in Death Valley or Siberia, and if you are living in those places, we recommend you get out as soon as possible.