Death Valley officially hottest place on Earth
Death Valley, California, recorded a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913.
September 17th, 2012
10:42 AM ET

Death Valley officially hottest place on Earth

In a year that has seen the United States record its hottest month ever comes word that the country now owns the title of the hottest air temperature recorded on Earth.

The World Meteorological Organization, the weather and climate agency of the United Nations, has recognized Death Valley, California, as the place where the planet has seen its hottest day ever, July 10, 1913, when it reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius).

Death Valley was able to lay claim to the title when the U.N. agency invalidated the previous record, 136.4 degrees F (58 degrees C), that was recorded at El Azizia, Libya, on September 13, 1922.

The Libyan mark was invalidated after an international panel of experts convened by the WMO concluded that there were five problems with the El Azizia observation: "(a) problematical instrumentation, (b) a likely inexperienced observer, (c) an observation site over an asphalt-like material which was not representative of the native desert soil, (d) poor matching of the extreme to other nearby locations and (e) poor matching to subsequent temperatures recorded at the site," the agency said in a press release.

The 1922 measurement was likely about 7 degrees C too high, the agency said.

Its investigation was conducted during 2010-2011 and included climate experts from Libya, Italy, Spain, Egypt, France, Morocco, Argentina, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The record is a bit of a coup for Death Valley, as the title of the world's hottest place is "as symbolic for meteorologists as Mount Everest is for geographers," the WMO said.

"Death Valley is famous as the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America," the National Park Service says on the park's website.

The 1913 record occurred during a year of extremes for Death Valley. The weather station at Greenland Ranch (now Furnace Creek Ranch) recorded a string of five days at 129 degrees F or above in July of that year, and on January 8, 1913, posted the record low for Death Valley, 15 degrees F (-10 degrees C).

Death Valley has reached the 129-degree mark four more times, in 1960, 1998, 2005 and 2007. The Park Service says Death Valley's hottest summer ever was in 1996, when it had 40 days higher than 120 degrees F (49 degrees C).

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Filed under: California • Heat • Libya • Weather
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. volsocal

    Thus the name.

    A classic..."It was so hot, I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking."

    – Johnny Carson-

    September 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Don Jones

    Might be that there are hotter places and nobody is around to take the temperature

    September 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. yaa

    About time China stepped up efforts to up this one

    September 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. robotnic

    I recall a recent article (might have been CNN.com) that said Death Valley held the record for the highest temperature of an inhabited locale, but there were likely other hotter places that nobody has ever measured due to inaccessibility.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pigmore

    Kinda looks like that Mars scape down there.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Evenstar13

    Yeah, but its a dry heat!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. STLBroker

    Yeah, but it is a dry heat.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. STLBroker

    Evenstar13, LOL, I swear I didn't see your post before I made mine. Great minds think alike.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jimmymax

    Wouldn't the hottest place on Earth be directly over an active volcano? (assuming a "natural" source of heat)

    September 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. BaconKH

    Go take the temp in Southern AFG, Iraq or Kuwait. I saw many days that were in the 140's. Death Valley is not nor will ever be the hottest place on Earth.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      Not to mention various layers of battle gear, I'm sure! Another reason to improve troop treatment on arrival back home!

      September 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ian

    In the pic, where those people are, I was at that exact location the last week of June this year. It was 123 degrees and all I can say was the scenery was spectacular and it was very very hot. Being from Canada, where we have amazing scenery, this was equally impressive. Yes the landscape looks burnt in places and it does look a bit like Mars but that is what makes Death Valley so awe inspiring. I was very impressed with Death Valley and all of California!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Aman

    Looks like those pictures from the Mars rover....hmmmmmm

    September 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Old Soldier

    Jimmymax: a volcano is a geological "thingie". Ambient temperatures in a geographical area are meteorology "thingies". And to all who say it's a "dry heat" so it's not bad: you are partly right. My wife and I camped there earlier this year ... temperatures were high enough to make your tongue hand to the ground. But it is eerily beautiful; there is much more vegetation than I expected in such a climate as plants and animals (to include indigenous Native Americans) can adapt to extremes we average Joes think is impossible; and the sunsets are something else! But as hot as it was, I personally found it many times more uncomfortable upon our return to Missouri than the two weeks we spent at Death Valley. Incidentally, the Native Americans don't like the name Death Valley as they consider it home with bountiful resources for those willing to fit into the environment. It's sort of cool (pun intended) to stand on the salt flats looking up at the mountain sign showing sea level 280 plus feet above your head. Furnace Creek Resort and Furnace Creek Ranch are OK places to stay there. The full hook-up camp ground was under renovation when we were there. When you travel around the USA, it really comes across to you just how wonderful, varied, and interesting it is in our nation. Another great place is Valley of Fire, Nevada outside Las Vegas. Go out there! Tchuss!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • 123elle

      I'd love to see Death Valley, but I'm scared - so many things can go wrong, such as with the car, or a medical emergency in the middle of "nowhere" or with crime in an isolated place. The environment is so merciless... I know, I know, I've watched too many movies. I'm probably at immeasurably greater risk on the freeway driving to work.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Adam

    It got to over 140 degrees in Afghanistan. And we had multiple thermometers to prove it.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. DP

    This is one thing America can be proud of .LOL.
    I am sure they must have used
    a) "speedstick" to glory without a bath.
    b) Paper instead of water

    & they call other peopel stinkers. Just imagine WETTING a peice of paper and wiping to how how much more comes out rather than plain paper.....LOL

    September 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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