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The Hottest Day In History

The Hottest Day In History

The Guinness Book of World Records lists July 10th 1913 as the hottest day in history, at 134F. Naturally, the event took place in Death Valley, at the old Greenland Ranch weather station.

A second temperature of 131F was recorded there, and the same temperature is claimed at Kibili in Tunisia in 1931.

But according to Weather Underground historian Christopher Burt, discussing the supposed hottest days in history, “I would assume most people who are meteorologically-oriented would not believe this record.”

In fact, according to Burt – whose work was instrumental in establishing the inauthenticity of a previous Libyan claim to the record – none of these temperatures are actually very likely to be accurate. For a start, Death Valley has never breached 130F again. Secondly, Death Valley was alone in reporting the roasting temperatures on that day. Nearby places like Las Vegas and Blythe were hot – but not record-breakers.

In addition, the wind conditions observed that day would suggest temperatures were actually much cooler. Greenland Ranch’s Oscar Denton, the record-keeper, may have worked hard but as an employee of the Pacific Coast Borax mining company he was no meteorologist.

Today, Burt suspects something may have been wrong with the thermometer. In other areas, questionable record-keeping may be to blame. Even the record that was tied in 2013 – with great scrutiny and care – may be wrong. The 129.2F measured at Death Valley at 4pm on June 29th 2013 (the exact start time of the Darth Valley Challenge) purportedly tied with an Israeli record from 1941, one that Burt feels is also unlikely to be accurate.

Indeed – as he puts it – “One could argue this is the hottest reliably measured temperature on Earth at this point.”

Suddenly that 6:36 in a warm, and rather smelly, Darth Vader suit doesn’t seem quite so bad… 🙂

I hope Mr. Burt is able to prove his theory… because if he does, then June 29th 2013 wasn’t one of the hottest days on record – it was THE hottest day in history!

Jon Rice
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Jon Rice

Jon is a highly-experienced runner who adopted the sport of heat running in 1996. He visits Death Valley every year to participate in his bizarre creation, The Darth Valley Challenge - a one-mile charge through the desert in the height of summer, dressed as Darth Vader.

To prepare for such silliness he takes extraordinary precautions. He trains year-round in the sauna, runs countless miles in extreme temperatures, and has crewed the Badwater Ultramarathon twice.

Jon's only request as you read this site is that you prepare carefully, tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back, and take more water than you think you'll need.
Jon Rice
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