Updated Aug 17, 2020 - Science

Death Valley hits 130 degrees as temperature records fall across California

Heat waves rise near a heat danger warning sign in Death Valley National Park, California.

Death Valley National Park, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

A Southern Californian thermometer at Death Valley's Furnace Creek reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, per the National Weather Service (NWS).

Why it matters: If verified, it would be Earth's hottest recorded temperature since at least 1931, the most scorching August day on record and the third-highest temperature ever recorded, per the Washington Post. Records were broken across California over the weekend, as the heat wave triggered wildfires and rolling power outages.

Of note: The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was considered to be at Death Valley in 1913, when a reading of 134°F was observed. But analysis by climate experts in 2016 found this was "essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective."

Yes, but: Randy Cerveny, who heads the World Meteorological Organization's weather and climate extremes team, told WashPost, the latest observation seemed "legitimate."

  • "I am recommending that the World Meteorological Organisation preliminarily accept the observation," Cerveny added.

The big picture: The NWS said temperature records were set in several other places in California on Sunday, including in Palmdale and Lancaster airports (both hit 111°F) and LAX International Airport (93°F) — and Paso Robles Airport tied its record for the month at 114°F.

"Storms with abundant lightning from Nevada/eastern California northeastward through southwestern Montana is expected to start new fires or increase fire activity. Isolated severe storms capable of strong wind gusts are expected across parts of eastern Oregon into far southwest Idaho and southern Arizona."
— NWS Weather Prediction Center

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details throughout.

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