Experts believe California may have logged the highest temperature ever recorded on earth.
The Mercury in Death Valley hit 54.4C (130F) on Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service Las Vegas said.
The preliminary reading, taken at Furnace Creek at 3.41pm, will be the hottest temperature officially recorded since 1913. But there are question marks about the validity of that reading, also taken at Death Valley – with many historical readings in some doubt, meaning it could be the hottest ever reliable recording.
It comes amid a blistering heatwave on the USA’s West Coast, which has seen various records tumble, wildfires, power grids strained and residents battling to stay cool amid the ‘worst heat’ in 70 years.
In a statement following the latest record, the National Weather Service explained: ‘Death Valley, California recorded a high temperature of 130°F at 3:41 PM PDT on Sunday, August 16, 2020.
‘This temperature was measured at Furnace Creek near the Visitors Center using a National Weather Service owned automated observation system. This observed high temperature is considered preliminary and not yet official.’
It continued: ‘If verified, this will be the hottest temperature officially verified since July of 1913, also at Death Valley.
‘As this is an extreme temperature event, the recorded temperature will need to undergo a formal review.
‘A Climate Extremes Committee will be formed to verify the validity of the 130°F reading.’
The World Meteorological Organization says the 56.7C (134F) reading in July 1913 at Death Valley’s Greenland Ranch is the hottest ever, after discounting a 58C reading from Libya in 1922.
But the meterologist Bob Henson said: ‘It’s quite possible the Death Valley high set a new global heat record. The extreme nature of the surrounding weather pattern makes such a reading plausible, so the case deserves a solid review’, American Geophysical Union reported.
‘There are nagging questions about the validity of even hotter reports from Death Valley in 1913 and Tunisia in 1931. What we can say with high confidence is that, if confirmed, this is the highest temperature observed on Earth in almost a century.’
It comes amid growing global alarm about the pace of global warming and the climate crisis from experts.
The UK recently recorded six consecutive days of temperatures topping 34C for the first time in nearly 60 years.
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