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July 7, 2010 / Dave Gorham

And They Think it's Hot in the Northeast U.S.

Yesterday’s blog entry focused on the Northeast heat wave where highs were well into the 90’s and heat index values were between 100-104ºF. While this kind of weather across the Northeast U.S. can be record or near-record breaking, this wouldn’t exactly be making headlines if you lived in Death Valley. Highs in the 90’s would be welcomed here as July is typically the hottest month with average highs near 115ºF. Granted this is a drier climate and they don’t have to deal with the humidity like those of us who live in the south.

Image: Wikipedia

Death Valley is a desert located in the southwestern U.S. and its one of the lowest, driest and hottest locations in North America. It’s one of the hottest places because of its lack of surface water and its low elevation as it sits 282 feet below sea level. Summer nights don’t provide much relief from the heat as overnight lows may only dip into the 86-95ºF range.

Looking east towards Nevada at the sand dunes. Image: Wikipedia

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134ºF on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek. During that particular heat wave there were five consecutive days that temperatures reached 129ºF or above. It’s also interesting to note the summer of 2001 because for 154 days straight maximum temperatures of 100ºF or above were recorded. Daily summer temperatures in Death Valley of 120ºF or greater are common and it’s so frequently the hottest spot in the U.S. that many tabulations of the highest daily temperatures in this country omit it.

Not only is it the hottest place in North America but it is also one of the driest. Average annual precipitation in Death Valley is 1.58 inches. Could you image only getting 1.58 inches of rain a year? Houston received that much rain in an hour last Friday!

Today’s high in Death Valley is expected to be near 116ºF with an overnight low around 83ºF. Although Death Valley has the record for the hottest temperature in North America, it doesn’t hold the world record as that belongs to Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya. On September 13, 1922, a world record temperature of 136ºF was recorded. Death Valley missed the world record by only 2 degrees!

Al ‘Ariziyah holds the world record for the hottest temperature on earth. Image:


One Comment

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  1. Dave Gorham / Jul 7 2010 1:14 PM

    Death Valley is also a popular location for car manufacturers to test the hot weather capabilities of their new models.

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