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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    The "Undertaker" must have been busy.

    September 17, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Sherri

      "July 10, 2013" ?

      September 17, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • assorted body parts

      July 10th, >1913<, Sherrie.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Seaninaz

    Wow, CNN – really? Anyone with a 4th grade education already knows this fact. How is this news?

    September 17, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Darth Cheney

      We must have some pretty formidable 4th graders if they knew the 5 reasons the previous record was considered invalid and that the WMO serves as the arbiter of record claims for weather extremes.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Rach

      Well.. you did click on it.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Seaninaz, this record was just announced a couple of weeks ago. Up until the end of August the record was held in Libya.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    This "record" has absolutely no relevance to anything that I can think of. Of course it's hot there. That's why it's not called Heavenly Valley!

    September 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    There is more to Death Valley than meets the eye. (or the thermometer) Nuch more.
    Death Valley is truly one of the most remarkable natural wonders on earth. From the singing sandunes to a single rose bush that's as big as a house, Death Valley has thousands of stories to tell.
    I've been to Death Valley on numerous occassions, one time spending an entire month camping and hiking. I've probably seen about 10% of what Death Valley has to show, and could speak endlessly for hours on end of what I have seen there.
    You must visit Death Valley before the Eifel Tower or Pyramids of Egypt. ty

    September 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I agree with Philip, Death Valley is a stunningly beautiful diverse and unspoiled landscape. Go visit, take lots of water.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Endlessly...for hours... Which is it, kind sir? Ok I'll stop trolling too.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Big Gay John

      So you are saying to see a dried up sea bed before seeing some of the 7 Wonders of the World.....interesting. While I have been to Death Valley and will agree that it is pretty amazing and beautiful I have also been to Paris and that was far more exciting. To each there own I guess, as long as people are out there seeing the world that is all that truly matters....

      October 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. organically

    The increasing droughts, floods, and wildfires in the U.S. and worldwide are all a major indicators of climate change, which is directly caused by fossil fuel use. Romney/Ryan fossil fuel dependent energy policy would only perpetuate the problem, which would be catastrophic for our country. In spite of the endless proof of human induced climate change, some of the population is still in denial. There are three reasons for this (1) the belief that the rapid change in our climate over the last 50 years is part of a cycle although these cycles take thousands of years, (2) the occasional negative news story on the science of climate change, and (3) rightist conservative radical or ignorant tea party philosophy that climate change is a hoax. There are deniers in every scientific fact. Climate change deniers threaten humanity. Reversing climate change is impossible at this point due to the international thirst for fossil fuels and our overall society living standard. This is not going to change. So, rather than talking about stopping climate change, let’s ignore the utopian deniers and begin a dialogue on how to adapt and stop dwelling on environmentally and socially damaging energy topics like Solyndra and the keystone pipeline.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • darren

      Dude, climate change? This record was set in 1913. If you are going to argue for such a contested issue please make sure you know what you are talking about.

      I'm becomming convinced that no one really knows exactly how climate change/global warming works.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • humtake

      Don't you know Bush caused climate change way before this? He is the reason for it. That record is amazing considering it happened way before scientists were convinced of anthropogenic climate change. It's even more amazing since scientists were 100% positive that in the 70s the Earth was going to have a huge global cooling problem (easily researched). What does it all mean? Well, logical people would say that it means Earth goes through cycles and sometimes it cools and sometimes it heats up. But who needs logic when we have paid scientists that are paid by the people who receive billions of dollars for making sure the research supports the stance of the source of the money.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • sww

      "climate change, which is directly caused by fossil fuel use"
      Wow, pretty bold statement... How do you explain the planet warming up at the end of the last ice age?

      September 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • MDAT

      Orbit differences.But now it is AGW.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill from GA

    " the place where the planet has seen its hottest day ever "

    Eh, really?

    Not accurate. The planet is billions of years old, guys.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      ^ This

      September 17, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      The article clearly refers to 'recorded history'.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Wrecky

    I'm pretty sure July 10, 1913 was not the hottest day ever on this planet. Maybe hottest day on record, but I'm sure when the earth was being formed and during other prior eras the earth was much hotter in many areas. These writers need to stop using adverbs like "ever" so whimsically.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • cw

      Are you high? The "ever" in this context is taken as recorded human history. Quite simple, really. Going by your definition, there would never be any temperature records broken, EVER.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • oussu

      You are correct, but this is what you get when non-scientists fancy themselves masterful at writing on scientific (or in this case just meteorological) subjects.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. European Desert Rose

    I'll never forget the day a young man gave me his personal copy of "Backpacking Death Valley", a very old guide written decades ago. It was in return for taking him with me in my Jeep to explore. He had ridden his bicycle all the way from Silicon Valley to spend his vacation wisely. It was in this book that I found the story of an old gold miner and his mail-order European bride...and of a single rosebush that drinks every oz. of water flowing from a spring, and is as big as your average house. (cont)

    September 17, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    I'm pretty sure volcanoes are hotter 🙂

    September 17, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. European Desert Rose

    The old man's eurobride became a bored and lonely housewife living in the desert, and demanded a european rosebush or she was going to leave. So the old man had one sent from Europe, and planted it next to a spring.
    That was over 50 years ago, and today, that rosebush drinks every drop of water from that spring. I began smelling it's pungent and sweet-smelling aroma about a mile before crested a ridge on the trail and caught sight of it for the first time. It is literally 20 feet tall and 50 feet wide.
    The old mine is still there to explore, as is the house and old dump truck and several farm implements are also littered about.
    The moral of the story is visit Death Valley! 🙂

    September 17, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ruppert Jenkins

    No way. I was in Baltimore 2 months ago. It was around 96 degrees, and humidity was around 2500%, which set the heat index at around 300 degrees F, so I personally experienced wayyyyyy hotter heat than this.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • CaliforniaKid

      is that why there are so many dark skin people in Baltimore?

      September 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike tilling

    In the 70s I worked in Saudi Arabia installing a climate station network.
    At one location Sullayill at the edge of the Empty Quarter the automatic temperature gauge I installed was deigned to go up to a maximum of 50c.
    When I returned the following month to check the data the needle had gone off the chart several times, i.e., rising above 50c
    I am sure temperatures reached 60c on some occasions

    September 17, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ben

    I don't want to spoil the party or start a new war, but Dasht-i-Lut and known as the Lut Desert, a large salt desert in Iran, has been ranked the hottest place on earth at nearly 70.7 °C (159–160 °F)

    Measurements of MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) installed on NASA's satellite "Aqua" from 2003 to 2005 testify that the hottest land surface on Earth is located in Dasht-e Lut and land surface temperatures reach here 70.7 °C (159.3 °F).

    September 17, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • NoMODIS

      MODIS measures the temperature of the ground. This is about air temperature.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Thanks, Dan. Yes. WATER. And not just for yourself, either. For your car. My old Jeep drank about a gallon of water per day which was more water than I drank. Of course I supplemented by water with coffee, Coca-Cola, and Jack Daniels. he he

    September 17, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. David

    We are so lucky to live in the U.S. – and I don't mean anything to do with politics or economics. Think about all of our national parks and how so many are a worldwide one-of-a-kind (ex. half of the world's geothermal features are located in Yellowstone). Everytime someone says "America is the greatest nation in the world" I want to say "actually, no; Finland has better education, Norway has a higher standard of living, etc, but geographically, I would agree that America is the greatest nation in the world and I wouldn't trade our nature and natural resources with anyone."

    September 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
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