Death Valley Records Hottest Temperature in More than a Century

Searing heat is roasting the Southwest, pushing Sunday’s temperature in Death Valley, California to a level not seen since 1913.


What You Need To Know

  • Sunday’s high at Furnace Creek in Death Valley was 130 degrees
  • 130 degrees would be hottest August temperature on record if confirmed
  • Death Valley holds disputed heat record
  • The hottest temperature recorded there was 134 degrees in 1913

A big dome of extreme heat is bringing triple-digit heat to much of the Southwest, but Death Valley has come out on top. The high of 130 degrees happened at 3:41 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.

This would be its hottest temperature on record in August. The previous record was 127 degrees, which happened in 2017, 1993, and 1933.

Since this isn’t a run-of-the-mill temperature record, a Climate Extremes Committee will make sure that it’s correct. One thing they’ll check is the equipment to see if it was working properly.

Death Valley’s History of Heat

Just last month, Death Valley recorded a high temperature of 128 degrees, one of the highest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. Death Valley’s 134 degrees in July 1913 is the current record-holder, but there’s a dispute over its accuracy.

Perfectly Situated

If International Falls, Minnesota is the “Icebox of the Nation,” then Death Valley could be called the Nation’s Blast Furnace. Why does it get so hot there?

First, it’s in a bowl. Furnace Creek is 190 feet below sea level and the lowest part of Death Valley lies 282 feet below sea level. The air warms as it descends, and being so far below sea level gives it even more opportunity to heat up.

Second, it’s very dry there. Mountains to the west wring out moisture as weather systems move in, so there’s very little – if any – rain left. Dry ground heats up much more easily than wet ground.

Other Places are Baking

Death Valley isn’t the only place dealing with this heat. Much of the Southwest is under excessive heat warnings, a sign of just how major this is for an area that’s used to big heat in the summer.