At 107°F, Death Valley Sets Record for Hottest Daily Low | Smart News | Smithsonian

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At 107°F, Death Valley Sets Record for Hottest Daily Low

Death Valley, California set an unusual new record last week matching the hottest low temperature ever recorded on Earth.

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Death Valley. Photo: Ray Ordinario

While large parts of the United States battle high temperatures and drought, Death Valley, California, set an unusual new record last week, matching the hottest low temperature ever recorded on Earth. Jeff Masters on Wunderground.com says,

On Thursday morning, July 12, 2012 the low temperature at Death Valley, California dropped to just 107°F (41.7°C), after hitting a high of 128° (53.3°C) the previous day. Not only does the morning low temperature tie a record for the world’s warmest low temperature ever recorded, the average temperature of 117.5°F is the world’s warmest 24-hour temperature on record.

Flanked to the north, south, and west by the Sylvania, Owlshead, and Pinamint mountains, respectively, Death Valley National Park is largely cut off from predominantly south- or westward winds. As they rise up the outer edges of the mountains, water-laden winds from all around shed their water vapor. Normally, a large amount of sunlight’s energy is used to evaporate water vapor, but in Death Valley, the lack of moisture in the air and in the soil means that most of the sun’s energy feeds directly into its soaring temperatures.

This same lack of water usually drives desert temperatures down at night. The average low for July 12 from 1911 to 2008 is 87°F, and last year the warmest minimum temperature was 97°F.

Masters says,

Wednesday’s high of 128°F (53.3°C) was the 10th hottest temperature in U.S. history, and the hottest temperature measured in the U.S. since July 18, 2009, when Death Valley recorded another 128° reading. The only hotter temperatures in U.S. history were all measured at Death Valley, the most recent one being the 129° measured on July 6, 2007. The all-time high for Death Valley is the 134° reading of July 10, 1913.

Heat records like this always need to taken with a grain of salt, however, as there are places on Earth that are so hot or so remote that people don’t even want to venture in to set up the required monitoring equipment, according to CNN.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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