Scorching temperature in US’s Death Valley could be global high

WASHINGTON (AFP) A temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) recorded in California’s Death Valley on Sunday by the US National Weather Service could be the hottest ever measured with modern instruments, officials say.

The reading was registered at 3:41 pm at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in the Death Valley national park by an automated observation system — an electronic thermometer encased inside a box in the shade.

In 1913, a weather station half an hour’s walk away recorded what officially remains the world record of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius).

Michael Major rides his bike at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center thermometer Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Death Valley National Park, Calif. The thermometer is not official but is a popular photo spot. (Photo: AP/John Locher)

But its validity has been disputed for a number of reasons: regional weather stations at the time didn’t report an exceptional heatwave, and there were questions around the researcher’s competence.

The next highest temperature was set in July 1931 in Kebili, Tunisia, at 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55.0 degrees Celsius) — but again, the accuracy of older instruments has been questioned.

In 2016 and 2017, weather stations in Mitribah, Kuwait and Turbat, Pakistan recorded temperatures of 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius). After evaluation by the World Meteorological Organization both were downgraded by a few fractions of a degree.

The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization said Monday it would start verifying the new US reading.

“This observed high temperature is considered preliminary and not yet official,” said the US National Weather Service.

More details on Wednesday’s Borneo Bulletin