If you think this summer was hot, it’s nothing compared to the summer of 1913, when the hottest temperature ever recorded was a searing 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, Calif. But while that reading was made 99 years ago, it is only being recognized today by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as the most extreme temperature ever recorded.
That’s because an international team of meteorologists recently finished an in-depth investigation of what had been the world-record temperature extreme of 58 degrees Celsius (136.4 F), recorded on Sept. 13, 1922, in El Azizia, Libya. The group found that there were enough questions surrounding the measurement and how it was made that it was probably inaccurate, overturning the record 90 years to the day it was recorded.
“We found systematic errors in the 1922 reading,” said Randy Cerveny, an ASU President’s Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “This change to the record books required significant sleuthing and a lot of forensic records work,” added Cerveny, who also is the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO, the person responsible for keeping worldwide weather records.
Officially, the “new” world record temperature extreme is 56.7 C (134 F), recorded on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, Calif.
“In the heart of every meteorologist and climatologist beats the soul of a detective,” said Cerveny. In this case the weather detectives had to work around an unfolding revolution in Libya. Via World’s hottest temperature cools a bit.