Extreme Temperature Diary- Monday July 12th, 2021/ Main Topic: Reports From Heatwave Gamma…Day 4

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Reports From Heatwave Gamma…Day 4

Dear Diary. Today will be the last day we highlight Heatwave Gamma. Gamma, by far, will have had less significant impacts compared with Beta even though it produced a significant number of all-time records. Catastrophic fire damage remains a big threat, though. Beta was more anomalously above comparatively low temperature averages in the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada and happened in an area with far fewer air conditioners. The lesson learned here is that that heat waves can now occur at latitudes which are unprepared for dangerous heat comparable to any from say Texas during a typical summer.

Gamma became a dangerous CAT3 on my heatwave scale on Friday, and since Monday is the 4th day at that level and above, that’s why I used day 4 in the title for our main topic.

Here is the latest summary on Gamma from Dr. Jeff Masters and Yale Climate Communications:


Death Valley, California, breaks the all-time world heat record for the second year in a row

If verified, the 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C) reading at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center on Friday, July 9, 2021, would be Earth’s highest reliably measured temperature.


Death ValleyThe thermometer enclosure at Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center as seen August 17, 2020, the day after Earth’s second-hottest reliably measured temperature in history, 54.4° C (129.9°F), was recorded. (Image credit: William Reid, who is holding the portable thermometer)

For the second consecutive year, Death Valley, California, has set a world record for the hottest reliably measured temperature in Earth’s history.

Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center hit an astonishing 130.0 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C) on Friday afternoon, July 9, 2021, beating the previous world record of 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C), set there on August 16, 2020. For perspective, according to What’s Cooking America, a medium-rare steak is cooked to an internal temperature of 130-135°F.

According to weather records experts Christopher Burt, who wrote the comprehensive weather records book “Extreme Weather”, and extreme weather expert Maximiliano Herrera, who tweets under the Twitter handle Extreme Temperatures Around the World, the observation, if confirmed, would be the hottest reliably recorded temperature in world history.

Cautions about the record

Friday’s measurement will have to undergo review by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) before being declared officially valid. Two possible areas of concern are that the temperatures at Furnace Creek showed a steep jump during the afternoon, and the nearby Stovepipe Wells station was considerably cooler, topping out at 122.6 degrees Fahrenheit (50.3°C). (See the raw high-resolution Furnace Creek data here by choosing a time up to six days in the past from the drop-down menu, then choosing “Decoded Data”.) WMO has not yet certified last year’s 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C) reading on August 16, 2020 at Furnace Creek as valid, so there may be a long wait. Fortunately, we’ll have excellent independent verification of this year’s measurement thanks to a temporary thermometer set up at the site in May by Campbell Scientific.

Climatologist William Reid, an expert on Death Valley meteorology who has written extensively about the site, cautioned that an increase in vegetation and structures built in the vicinity of the Furnace Creek site in recent decades has allowed the station to record hotter temperatures.

“An increase in vegetation and some man-made structures not too far south of the station have resulted in poorer ventilation through the station area. Since the station is above a bare and sandy surface, hot air along the ground during afternoon sunshine is less effectively mixed away from the instrumentation. The result is higher temperature readings during the afternoon comparably,” Reid wrote. “I figure that most summer maximums at Death Valley today are a couple of degrees higher because of the poorer station exposure. A day that hits 125 degrees today probably would have only been as high as 122-123 degrees before 1980.”

Figure 1. Hourly maximum temperature at Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center July 6-12, 2021. (Image credit: NOAA)

Official world record remains 134°F at Furnace Creek in 1913

“If Friday’s observation passes an investigation (instrument calibration, etc.) then, yes, this is a new reliably measured global extreme heat record,” Burt wrote by email.

But the observation will not count as an official world record. In 2013, WMO officially decertified the official all-time hottest temperature in world history, a 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit (58.0°C) reading from Al Azizia, Libya, in 1923. (Burt was a member of the WMO team that made the determination.) With the Libya record abandoned, the official world record was given to a 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7°C) measurement taken at Death Valley on July 10, 1913.

However, this record has been strongly disputed by Burt, Herrera, and Reid.

“The old Death Valley record from July 1913 is 100% bogus (not just 99.9% such), as are all other temperature readings of 130 degrees Fahrenheit or higher from Africa in the past,” Burt said.

Burt wrote a detailed 2016 blog post at Weather Underground challenging the 1913 record at Death Valley, explaining that official readings of 134, 130, and 131 degrees Fahrenheit taken on July 10, 12, and 13, 1913 were likely the result of an inexperienced observer. Climatologist William Reid has also extensively researched what he calls an “improbable record” in 1913. In order for the 1913 Death Valley record to be decertified, though, an official WMO investigation committee would have to be assembled to look into the matter, a years-long process for which there is currently no motivation.

The only other temperature of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit officially recognized by WMO is a 131-degree reading at Kebili, Tunisia, set July 7, 1931, which is considered to be Africa’s hottest temperature.

Burt disputed this record: “I mentioned to the WMO about the Kebili temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit back in 2012, when asked what I thought the next hottest temperature in Africa (after Al Azzia) might be, since that was the only temperature over 130 degrees Fahrenheit that had an actual date attached to it. However, the Kebili ‘record’ is even more bogus than even the Al Azzia record, and I said so. Kebili is a relatively cool spot in Tunisia (an oasis) and never since the 1930s ever again recorded a maximum temperature above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Nowhere in Africa has any reliably observed temperature been measured above 126 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Figure 2. The unofficial thermometer at Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center (which reads about 5°F too high, compared to the official instrument), as seen on Saturday afternoon, July 10, 2021. Earth’s third-hottest reliably measured temperature in history, 54.1° C (129.4°F), was recorded that day at the site. (Image credit: William Reid)

Top-10 list of hottest world temperatures: Furnace Creek dominates

Furnace Creek made a run at beating its Friday world record on Saturday, but according to an email from climatologist William Reid, who visited Death Valley that day, high clouds moved over the station in the afternoon, allowing the temperature to reach “only” 129.4 degrees Fahrenheit (54.1°C). Even so, the highs Friday and Saturday mean that the planet’s top three hottest reliably measured temperatures on record have all occurred at Furnace Creek in the past year. Here’s is Earth’s top-ten list of hottest reliably measured temperatures:

1) 54.4° C (130.0°F), 7/09/2021, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.); 
2) 54.4° C (129.9°F), 8/16/2020, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.); 
3) 54.1° C (129.4°F), 7/10/2021, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.);
4) 54.0° C (129.2°F), 6/30/2013, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.);
4) 54.0° C (129.2°F), 7/21/2016, Mitribah (Kuwait);
6) 53.9° C (129.0°F), 7/17/1998, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.);
6) 53.9° C (129.0°F), 7/19/2005, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.);
6) 53.9° C (129.0°F), 7/06/2007, Furnace Creek (California, U.S.);
6) 53.9° C (129.0°F), 7/22/2016, Basra International Airport (Iraq); and
10) 53.8° C (128.8°F), 7/22/2016, Basra-Hussen (Iraq).

Kudos go to Maximiliano Herrera (@extremetemps) and Jérôme Reynaud (geoclimat.org) for helping assemble this list.

Figure 3. The Stovepipe Wells measurement station in Death Valley, California. (Image credit: NOAA)

Highest recorded minimum temperature in North America: 107.7°F

Another astonishing heat record occurred on Sunday, when the 24-hour low temperature at Stovepipe Wells, also located in Death Valley, dropped to a ridiculously hot 107.7 degrees Fahrenheit (42.0°C). The previous North American hottest minimum temperature on record was 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41.7°C) at Furnace Creek on July 12, 2012. On Sunday, the high temperature at Stovepipe Wells hit 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (53.7°C) – one of the hottest U.S. temperatures ever measured. Summing together Sunday’s high and low and dividing by two gives an average temperature for the day of 118.1 degrees Fahrenheit (47.9°C), which is very likely a world record for reliably measured average daily temperature.

According to weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera (@extremetemps), only one location worldwide has recorded a higher overnight minimum temperature than Stovepipe Wells: Oman. The world record for highest 24-hour minimum temperature is 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit (42.6°C) at Qurayyat, Oman, on June 26, 2018. The world record for highest overnight low (12-hour low) is 111.6 degrees Fahrenheit (44.2°C) at Khasab Airport, Oman, on June 17, 2017.

Stovepipe Wells, established in 2004, is part of NOAA’s Climate Reference Network, with equipment among the highest quality in the world. The station is located at an elevation of 80 feet (24 m), and is usually 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than Furnace Creek, which is at -193 feet (-59 m).

Other all-time heat records July 9-11

Among U.S. stations with long periods of record spanning at least 40 years, there were at least 12 sites that tied or exceeded their previous all-time (any day) heat record during the July 9-11 western U.S. heat wave (kudos to Maximiliano Herrera for this list):

July 9:
Grand Junction, CO: 107°F (41.7°C), new record
Tonopah, NV: 104°F (40.0°C), tied

July 10:
St. George, UT: 117°F (47.2°C), ties all-time state record for Utah
Farmington, NM: 106°F (41.1°C), new record
St Johns, AZ: 104°F (40.0°C), tied
Page, AZ: 111°F (43.9°C), tied
Mercury, NV: 113°F (45.0°C), tied
Toponah, NV: 104°F (40.0°C), tied
Las Vegas Airport, NV: 117°F (47.2°C), tied
China Lake, CA: 119°F (48.3°C), tied
Barstow-Daggett Airport, CA: 118°F (47.8°C), tied
Bishop, CA: 111°F (43.9°C), new record
Winslow, AZ: 110°F (43.3°C), new record

July 11:
Tonopah, NV: 105°F (40.6°C), new record

This list may be updated if additional records come to light, or are set on Monday, when the heat wave will be winding down. Over the past 30 days, according to the NOAA/NCEI database of record highs and lows, the U.S. has racked up a startling total of at least 301 all-time record highs. NOAA’s list includes stations with a period of record shorter than 40 years, though.

For more of this article please click:

Here are more major “ET’s” reported on Monday:

Here is some more June 2021 climatology:

Here is more climate and weather news from Monday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *