The 130-degree reading observed Friday and last August only trail two other high temperatures ever measured on the planet: 1) The high of 134 set in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, and 2) a 131-degree reading from Kebili, Tunisia, set July 7, 1931.
But Christopher Burt, an expert on world weather extremes, questions the legitimacy of both of those measurements. He called the 1913 Death Valley reading “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective” and wrote that the 1931 Tunisia reading has “serious credibility issues.”
In other words, the 130-degree readings from Death Valley on Friday and last year, if validated, may be the highest pair of reliably measured temperatures ever observed on Earth.
As it stands, Friday’s high broke the daily record for July 9 of 129, also from 1913.
Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest location in the United States. Furnace Creek, where its temperature is measured, sits at 190 feet below sea level in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. It is notorious for its blistering heat.
Saturday marks the anniversary of the controversial 134 degree reading from 1913. Temperatures that high are unlikely this weekend.
The heat occurring in the West this summer is linked to both a historically intense drought and human-caused climate change. The historic heat wave that occurred in the Pacific Northwest to close June was made at least 150 times as likely due to human influence, according to a panel of scientists.