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An Investigation of Death Valley’s 134°F World Temperature Record

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#1
happ

Posted 30 October 2016 - 11:17 AM

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This is a few paragraphs taken from a blog by Bill Reid, an AMS member. His photograph of lightning near the Hollywood sign I use as my avatar. 

 

https://www.wundergr...perature-record

 

An Investigation of Death Valley’s 134°F World Temperature Record

 

By: Christopher C. Burt , 7:06 PM GMT on October 24, 2016

 
 

An Investigation of Death Valley’s 134°F (56.7°C) World Air Temperature Record

In 2012 the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) disallowed what had long been considered the hottest air temperature ever measured on Earth: a 58.0°C (136.4°F) reading measured at El Azizia, Libya on September 13, 1922. As a result of this record being struck from the books, the temperature of 134°F (56.7°C) recorded at Greenland Ranch at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California on July 10, 1913 became, by default, the new world’s hottest air temperature yet measured. In this guest blog we will investigate the credibility of that measurement. This blog is courtesy of William T. Reid, a geographer and climatologist who has been studying the desert climate of California and, in particular, the Death Valley temperature record for some 30 years. Mr. Reid and I worked together to come to a commensurate conclusion regarding the validity of this significant planetary weather record: It is possible to demonstrate that a temperature of 134°F in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, was essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective, using an officially sanctioned USWB shelter and thermometer and following proper procedures observationally. Thus, the best explanation for the record high report(s) in July 1913 is observer error.

 

The Setting

Death Valley is the lowest, driest and, during the summer months, hottest location in the United States. At its lowest spot, Badwater Basin, the altitude stands at 282 feet below sea level. Some 15 miles north of Badwater and about 100 feet higher is the Furnace Creek oasis and resort. A weather station was established here under the aegis of The USWB (U.S. Weather Bureau) in June 1911, and named ‘Greenland Ranch’. The ranch was developed by the William Tell Coleman Borax Company in 1883, and was named such for the alfalfa fields planted for the mule teams used to transport borax and for feed for other ranch animals consumed by the miners, ranch hands and visitors. In 1934, the oasis area became more commonly known as ‘Furnace Creek Ranch’ and Death Valley became a National Monument. The U.S. Park Service established a weather station in 1934 at their Cow Creek headquarters, three miles north of Furnace Creek. Both Cow Creek and Greenland Ranch stations closed in 1961 when the Park Service set up a new cooperative weather station, again under the aegis of the USWB, at the Death Valley National Park Visitors Center where it remains to this day. This new station, named ‘Death Valley’, is approximately 1000 feet (300 meters) north of the former Greenland Ranch.

 

The focus of this investigation is the unprecedented temperature record of July 7-14, 1913 when the USWB COOP observer at Greenland Ranch, Oscar Denton, measured a string of abnormally hot days. Maximum temperatures for July 7-14, 1913, were: 127°, 128°, 129°, 134°, 129°, 130°, 131°, and 127°F respectively. Minimums were near-to-slightly above average for this 8-day period, ranging from 85°F to 93°F. Each daily maximum temperature from July 7 to July 14, 1913 equaled or exceeded all other maximum temperature values at Greenland Ranch for the entire 50-year period of record (1911-1961), aside from a questionable maximum of 129°F in July 1960.
 

The Instrumentation and its Exposure in 1913

The location for the instrument shelter (a standard Stevenson screen), first installed by the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1911 at Greenland Ranch, was “carefully selected” according to George H. Willson (see Monthly Weather Review, June 1915). Mr. Willson was, at that time, the district forecaster and section director for the U.S Weather Bureau (USWB), Department of Agriculture, San Francisco station and was responsible for climate data in Death Valley during its early years. The shelter housed standard USWB maximum and minimum thermometers, and was well exposed to wind. Structures and trees at the ranch were of sufficient distance to disallow any very localized build-up of hot air around the station during bright sunshine. It was placed “over an alfalfa sod”, and “the location is such that the shelter is not exposed to the reflected heat from the desert.” Willson “italicized” the above quote for emphasis. Willson continued:

“Evaporation is excessive in this section and liberal irrigation is necessary to maintain plant life; hence, the cooling by evaporation from the surrounding damp ground and live vegetation is probably sufficient to lower the readings of the instruments several degrees. Undoubtedly the temperature down in the desert bottom of the valley is much higher than it is at Greenland Ranch.”

About 100 acres of land here was irrigated for the alfalfa crop and other fruits and vegetables. Willson made it clear that the new station was in a spot that was cooler, perhaps significantly cooler, than the rest of the basin bottom. This conservative siting (with regard to daytime temperature measurement) might not have been welcome by one of the earliest Greenland Ranch COOP observers, Oscar Denton (and may have influenced his observations). In a Historic Resource Study by Linda Greene (1981, see references) it is stated that by the late 19th century temperatures at the ranch “ranged from eight to ten degrees cooler than elsewhere in the valley due to the presence of water, shade trees, and grass in the area.”

Thermometer shelters were routinely placed above grass during the first part of the 20th century, even in extremely arid areas where grass was scarce. It was thought important to have consistent environments around and below the shelters to allow valid and meaningful temperature comparisons from station to station. It goes without saying but needs to be emphasized: a desert weather station above grass is representative of a desert area above grass, and it is not representative of a desert area above a typical, mostly barren, desert surface.

 

Meteorology of Summer Heat Waves in the Death Valley Region

At near 36°N latitude, Death Valley is ideally situated geographically for hot weather during the summer months. At this latitude, subsiding air and clear skies dominate (associated with the northern fringe of the planet’s Hadley cell), and the vast majority of summer days are clear or mostly clear in Death Valley. During the late spring and early summer the jet stream and the associated ‘westerlies’ migrate poleward. With this cooler mid-tropospheric flow shunted well to the north, warm air is allowed to build aloft over the Desert Southwest and the Death Valley region. From June to August monsoon-related moisture and thunderstorms are common in the Desert Southwest, sometimes impacting Death Valley. This weather regime is associated with lower maximum temperatures due to cloudiness, precipitation, and general evaporative effects such as storm outflow. However, Death Valley is far enough north and west to avoid most of the monsoon activity that migrates from the Sonoran Desert. Because of the prevailing subsidence, coupled with the high terrain on all sides of Death Valley, it is difficult for low-level moisture to reach the depression itself. Normally, any low-level moisture mixes out into the drier upper levels of the atmosphere during daytime convection. The high mountain ranges to the west, especially the Sierra Nevada and Panamint Range, effectively cast a cool-season (October-April) ‘rain-shadow’ over Death Valley, so Pacific storm systems usually sweep through with little more than wind and clouds. On average, the basin of Death Valley receives only 2.0”-2.5” inches of rain annually, with less than an inch on average due to monsoon and tropical-related activity from May through September.

Death Valley’s barren surface is typically bone dry in summer, and it warms easily under the high desert sun. Surface temperatures of 200°F have been measured, as was the case on July 15, 1972 when the ground surface temperature reached 201°F; at the same time the shelter air temperature stood at 128°F. Since little solar radiation is utilized for evaporation and transpiration, nearly all ‘incoming’ solar radiation (that is not reflected skyward) heats the ground. Intense daytime heating of the surface creates a relatively hot, near-ground layer of air characterized by very steep lapse rates (a ‘super-adiabatic’ layer). This creates a very unstable environment and a strong vertical exchange of air is required to mitigate and regulate such. By early afternoon any vestiges of overnight cooling have ‘mixed out’ entirely, and there is deep mixing throughout the lower half of the troposphere throughout the region. Above the near-ground ‘super-adiabatic’ layer, the environmental lapse rate is at (or very near) the dry adiabatic lapse rate of 5.4°F per 1000 feet. The unconditionally unstable, deep, mixed layer typically extends up to about the 600-millibar level (about 15,000 feet above the bottom of Death Valley) on nearly every summer afternoon.

A consequence of the deep, mixed layer is a virtual connection between its top and its bottom. Once established and maintained, the entire column warms (or cools) as an entity. Any significant increase in ambient temperature at shelter level (1.5 meters above the ground) would be, and must be, associated with a similar degree of warming of the entire air column. Thus, the temperature typically changes little at desert stations during the hottest hours of the afternoon. Arnold Court, an expert desert climatologist for the U.S. Army in the 1940s (see references), found that shelter temperatures remained within 2 or 3 degrees (F°) of the maximum temperature from about 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Death Valley on July afternoons. The physics of the deep, mixed layer does not allow for the development of area-wide ‘hot spots’ within a region, and it does not allow significant afternoon temperature ‘spikes’ to occur. What it DOES allow is a fairly predictable pattern of temperature in the desert both diurnally and spatially. It promotes a strong correlation, on a regional scale, between daily maximum temperature and elevation.

Llewelyn Williams, a geographer with U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, examined the conditions favoring high surface temperatures at Yuma, Arizona, and determined that the key to high ambient air temperatures is “warm air between 5,000 and 14,000 feet and a well-developed vertical exchange induced during afternoon convection” (1967). The study also found that “there exists an upper limit to what the combination of radiation and ground surface temperature can do in developing high ambient air temperatures”.

Continue reading: https://www.wundergr...perature-record


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#2
wx_statman

Posted 30 October 2016 - 04:24 PM

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Its good to see more work being done to discredit the Death Valley record. It doesn't stand up to even basic cross-referencing, whether against other stations in the region or against the history of Death Valley weather observations themselves. 


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#3
IbrChris

Posted 30 October 2016 - 07:18 PM

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Wow that was an excellent blog post...I like the use of linear regression analysis in this instance where it can be shown the boundary layer over the region is generally 15,000' deep on July afternoons. I bet there's some awesome paragliding over there assuming one sets off from some ridge near Lone Pine (or the Amargosas). 129 is the acceptable maximum reading for Death Valley.


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#4
Scott

Posted 31 October 2016 - 07:29 PM

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Each daily maximum temperature from July 7 to July 14, 1913 equaled or exceeded all other maximum temperature values at Greenland Ranch for the entire 50-year period of record (1911-1961), aside from a questionable maximum of 129°F in July 1960.

 

 

I knew that the 1913 readings were probably bogus, but what makes the 1960 reading questionable?   1960 did have a big heat wave out west and many places had their record highs then.  129 was also hit on 7/1/2013, 7/7/2007, 7/18/1998, and 7/20/2005, so the 1960 reading does seem plausible.  

 

Does anyone know why the 1960 reading is considered to be questionable?



#5
wx_statman

Posted 31 October 2016 - 07:44 PM

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I knew that the 1913 readings were probably bogus, but what makes the 1960 reading questionable?   1960 did have a big heat wave out west and many places had their record highs then.  129 was also hit on 7/1/2013, 7/7/2007, 7/18/1998, and 7/20/2005, so the 1960 reading does seem plausible.  
 
Does anyone know why the 1960 reading is considered to be questionable?


I was surprised when I read that too. That's the first time I've seen the reading from 1960 questioned.

#6
IbrChris

Posted 01 November 2016 - 12:22 AM

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My guess is July 1960's 129 was compared to surrounding stations and the linear regression suggested the reading was too high.

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#7
wx_statman

Posted 01 November 2016 - 06:11 AM

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My guess is July 1960's 129 was compared to surrounding stations and the linear regression suggested the reading was too high.

 

That's probably the case.



#8
happ

Posted 01 November 2016 - 09:32 AM

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Wow that was an excellent blog post...I like the use of linear regression analysis in this instance where it can be shown the boundary layer over the region is generally 15,000' deep on July afternoons. I bet there's some awesome paragliding over there assuming one sets off from some ridge near Lone Pine (or the Amargosas). 129 is the acceptable maximum reading for Death Valley.

 

15,000' column of superheated air. Summer inversions are generally 1000-2000' here.



#9
Eujunga

Posted 01 November 2016 - 07:14 PM

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Great stuff.  Answers some questions I had about desert heat in general.


Tujunga, CA (15 miles N of Downtown L.A.) - Elev. 1,860 ft.

 

Eugene, OR (5 miles SSW) - Elev. 850 ft.


#10
happ

Posted 01 November 2016 - 08:23 PM

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Great stuff.  Answers some questions I had about desert heat in general.

 

Have you ever visited Death Valley?  I plan to someday likely during winter/ early spring.



#11
Phil

Posted 01 November 2016 - 08:28 PM

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I visited it back when I was 11 years old with my godmother and other extended family, then again when I was 16. Was in May or June the first time (I think, might have been April), August the second time.

Felt like an oven, sort of like when you open it up while baking something. I think I'd still take 115F+ and dry over 95F and oppressively humid, though.
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#12
Front Ranger

Posted 01 November 2016 - 08:41 PM

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I visited Death Valley in August 2005. Wasn't impressively hot, maybe 117 or so. The scenery/topography around it is pretty cool.


Cool anomalies soothe the soul.


#13
BLI snowman

Posted 01 November 2016 - 11:39 PM

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That 129 is more likely the word record. To my knowledge there still has never been a credible ground reading of 130F or higher.



#14
Scott

Posted 02 November 2016 - 06:10 AM

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To my knowledge there still has never been a credible ground reading of 130F or higher.

 

 

One of the rangers at Death Valley went out and measured a 131 at Badwater (the lowest point in Death Valley) during a heat wave.   It wasn't an official reading since there is no weather station, but the reading is credible.  I don't remember which date it was, but I'll look it up tonight and post the info.  



#15
wx_statman

Posted 02 November 2016 - 09:20 AM

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One of the rangers at Death Valley went out and measured a 131 at Badwater (the lowest point in Death Valley) during a heat wave.   It wasn't an official reading since there is no ranger station, but the reading is credible.  I don't remember which date it was, but I'll look it up tonight and post the info.  

 

I remember this. I'm pretty certain it was late June 1994.



#16
Scott

Posted 02 November 2016 - 04:38 PM

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I remember this. I'm pretty certain it was late June 1994.

 

Yes; June 29 1994.  The 131 was measured with a sling psychrometer.   Although the reading is non-official, it is possibly accurate as Badwater (elevation -282 feet) is said to be a few degrees hotter than Furnace Creek.         Lake Havasu City also hit 128 and is 800 feet higher, so 131 at Badwater does seem possible.  



#17
wx_statman

Posted 02 November 2016 - 10:38 PM

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Yes; June 29 1994.  The 131 was measured with a sling psychrometer.   Although the reading is non-official, it is possibly accurate as Badwater (elevation -282 feet) is said to be a few degrees hotter than Furnace Creek.         Lake Havasu City also hit 128 and is 800 feet higher, so 131 at Badwater does seem possible.

 

I've read before that the Lake Havasu sensor was likely over-exposed in the mid-1990's. I think it might have been Chris Burt who talked about that.

 

But I do agree that 131 is definitely possible @ Badwater in a heat wave like June 1994. 


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#18
Scott

Posted 03 November 2016 - 08:03 PM

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I've read before that the Lake Havasu sensor was likely over-exposed in the mid-1990's. I think it might have been Chris Burt who talked about that.

 

 

Looking at the nearby weather data, he's probably right.   The nearby stations reached 120 or 121, but no readings were close to 128.  Further the 1967 to 1991 station at Lake Havasu didn't have any readings higher than the 121 on 6/27/1990.   The new station reported at least 27 readings hotter than this since 1991.   It doesn't seem likely, especially when looking at the other nearby stations, even though there were some impressive heat waves during that time period.  

Bullhead City to the north did reach 126 during the same heat wave though.  Near Bullhead City Laughlin was 125.   Those might be the real records for those states (unless the 127 at Parker in 1905 is accurate).



#19
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 05:42 AM

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I've been crunching numbers for WY and I'm pretty confident the wildly warm values at Basin (such as the 114 state record) are overexposed. All of the really warm Basin readings are not corroborated by values even within 5-7 F at Lovell, Worland and/or Greybull. 108-110 seems like the absolute max for the Bighorn Basin. The state record should probably be the 112 at Colony on 7/7/1981 corroborated by a 109 at Recluse 14 NW on 7/6/1981. Similarly a 109 at Colony on 6/20/1988 corroborated by a 106 at Recluse 14 NW the same day.


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#20
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 05:51 AM

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Scott and WxStatman might be interested to know I discovered the location of Bowen, Montana. It was basically a ranch in the Big Hole Basin of western Beaverhead County, MT near present-day Wisdom (but it appears to have been a slightly colder location than the modern Wisdom station). Elevation was 6,080'. The station has data from Oct 1906 through July 1921. The coordinates are 45.75, -113.45.

Bowen had plenty of remarkable cold in winter too...-55 on 2/1/1908 and -54 on 2/6/1914. Also -52 on 12/13/1919.

Both Bowen and Grayling (on Hebgen Lake) reached 5 on 8/25/1910 for the coldest credible August temperature in the United States (Alaska inclusive).


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#21
Scott

Posted 04 November 2016 - 07:03 AM

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I've been crunching numbers for WY and I'm pretty confident the wildly warm values at Basin (such as the 114 state record) are overexposed.

 

 

I have wondered about those readings as well.   Whalen Dam has a reported 114 on 6/24/1988 as well, but it also seems unlikely.

 

Redbird has a 112 reading on 7/12/1954.   That one actually might be possible as several other stations in the region had their record highs on that date.   Morrisey to the north and usually slight cooler than Redbird recorded a 110 on that day. 

 

Not far from either location, Spencer 10NE had a reading of 112 on 7/21/1960, which also might be possible, but it was possibly over-exposed.
 

The Redbird record of 112 does seem collaborated by the Morrisey reading though and may be another possibility for the record high in Wyoming.  


Scott and WxStatman might be interested to know I discovered the location of Bowen, Montana. 

 

 

Yes, very interested.

Another location I haven't been able to find is Blaine Colorado.  Supposedly it holds the state's February record of 90 in 1904, but I haven't been able to find such a place that existed in Colorado.   There is a Blaine Basin in the San Juan Mountains, but you would be hard pressed to see a 90 there in July, let alone February.  

 

I also haven't been able to find the location for Columbine Colorado with a -46 March reading in 1943.   There is a Columbine in the Denver area, but there is no way that it hit -46 in March there.

On another note, Sedgwick Colorado supposedly has the November record high for Colorado with a 93 on 11/5/1915, but this reading seems completely bogus.  

In the same region, there was a possible 90 recorded at Yuma on 11/1/1901 and Holyoke had a reported 88 on 11/4/1901,so it can be pretty warm in November in that region.

 

The 5 reading at Wolf Creek Pass in August is also bogus (and was edited out of the WRCC database years ago), but it still shows up occasionally in almanacs and online sources.  



#22
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 09:07 AM

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I have wondered about those readings as well.   Whalen Dam has a reported 114 on 6/24/1988 as well, but it also seems unlikely.

 

Redbird has a 112 reading on 7/12/1954.   That one actually might be possible as several other stations in the region had their record highs on that date.   Morrisey to the north and usually slight cooler than Redbird recorded a 110 on that day. 

 

Not far from either location, Spencer 10NE had a reading of 112 on 7/21/1960, which also might be possible, but it was possibly over-exposed.
 

The Redbird record of 112 does seem collaborated by the Morrisey reading though and may be another possibility for the record high in Wyoming.  

 

Yes, very interested.

Another location I haven't been able to find is Blaine Colorado.  Supposedly it holds the state's February record of 90 in 1904, but I haven't been able to find such a place that existed in Colorado.   There is a Blaine Basin in the San Juan Mountains, but you would be hard pressed to see a 90 there in July, let alone February.  

 

I also haven't been able to find the location for Columbine Colorado with a -46 March reading in 1943.   There is a Columbine in the Denver area, but there is no way that it hit -46 in March there.

On another note, Sedgwick Colorado supposedly has the November record high for Colorado with a 93 on 11/5/1915, but this reading seems completely bogus.  

In the same region, there was a possible 90 recorded at Yuma on 11/1/1901 and Holyoke had a reported 88 on 11/4/1901,so it can be pretty warm in November in that region.

 

The 5 reading at Wolf Creek Pass in August is also bogus (and was edited out of the WRCC database years ago), but it still shows up occasionally in almanacs and online sources.  

Blaine is in Baca County, SE Colorado. I agree the 93 at Sedgwick in Nov 1915 is bogus. Las Animas did hit 89 on 11/8/1915 corroborated by a 88 at Holly on 11/6/1915.

Colorado's November record high is probably a pair of 90 at Holly and Wray, both on 11/10/1927. It also hit 89 at Lamar that day.


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#23
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 09:12 AM

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The official Breckenridge, CO data begins in 1893, the early values appear dubious and were taken by one B. A. Arbogast, MD during 1891.

-35 on 4/2/1891, it was -11 at Alma the same night and -3 at Castle Rock...so it was cold.
3 on 6/2/1891
10 on 7/2/1891

All seem dubious.

Some other interesting readings at Breckenridge pre-1893:

8 on 6/10/1889
12 on 6/6/1890

Credible record lows by month seem to be:

April: -30 Fraser 4/4/1970
May: -10 Climax 5/14/1896
June: 10 Climax on 6/2/1990 and 6/19/1976
July: 12 Climax on 7/4/1995
 


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#24
Scott

Posted 04 November 2016 - 09:51 AM

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Credible record lows by month seem to be:

April: -30 Fraser 4/4/1970
May: -10 Climax 5/14/1896
June: 10 Climax on 6/2/1990 and 6/19/1976
July: 12 Climax on 7/4/1995

 


Silverton also has a 10 on 6/20/1911.   That one might be possible as after Fraser, Silverton has some of the coldest summer nights in Colorado.   Other stations in the area have recorded temperatures in the lower teens, so it might be possible, even though it does seem a bit too cold, especially since it was late in the month.

If non-populated places are counted, Pikes Peak recorded (almost certainly accurately) single digit June temperatures several times.  I remember when going through the data that 2 was the lowest.   Another year hit 4 and there were several other single digit readings (I'll have to look up which year).



#25
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 10:13 AM

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Taylor Park seems to be the "Peter Sink" of Colorado...although not quite as cold for records. It appears to be the only spot in the lower 48 that has reached -60 twice on the same calendar day...2/1/1951 and 2/1/1985. If it wasn't for the Maybell readings in Jan and Feb it would have the state record low for Dec-Feb.


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#26
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 10:21 AM

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Columbine is in Routt County, elevation 8,100' according to the March 1943 Colorado State Climatological Report. The coordinates are 40.85, -106.697


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#27
Scott

Posted 04 November 2016 - 11:16 AM

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Columbine is in Routt County, elevation 8,100' according to the March 1943 Colorado State Climatological Report. The coordinates are 40.85, -106.697

 

Dang.   I don't know why I didn't think of that one.  I actually live in that general area.   I have been to that Columbine many times, but guess it is so tiny and I didn't know that they ever had a weather station, so I was thinking it must be somewhere else.  Steamboat Springs did hit -29 on that day, so I could see it being colder in Columbine.  I actually recorded a 20 while camping near Columbine in August. 

 

Blaine is in Baca County, SE Colorado.

 

 

Thanks, found it.  It appears that the weather data is under the station Two Buttes.

http://www.wrcc.dri....iMAIN.pl?co8510

I don't know what to think of the 90 reading in February 1904.  Eversoll Ranch did supposedly record a 89 on 2/11/1951, so it can get warm in the area in February.  

 

Taylor Park seems to be the "Peter Sink" of Colorado...although not quite as cold for records. It appears to be the only spot in the lower 48 that has reached -60 twice on the same calendar day...2/1/1951 and 2/1/1985. If it wasn't for the Maybell readings in Jan and Feb it would have the state record low for Dec-Feb.

 

 

Yes.   Taylor Park would be the Peter Sinks of Colorado for winter, and Fraser or Tabernash would be it for summer (Fraser is colder than Taylor Park on summer nights).   Tabernash is even colder at night than Fraser, but there is no official weather station there.

Concerning Taylor Park, the official lows are -60, but according to Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist, some of the ranches in the lowest part of the valley have recorded temperatures as low as -70.  (This is published in the book Colorado Weather Almanac.  See the bottom of page 71 in the following link):


https://books.google...er cold&f=false

 

As far as Maybell goes, I live just east of there.   The entire Yampa River Valley can get extremely cold at night, even though we aren't that high in elevation (Maybell is actually only at 5920 feet, which isn't a high elevation for Colorado.   It isn't much higher than Denver and is even lower than Colorado Springs).  We don't average as cold as some other places in Colorado, but we do often have the extremes.

 

Around here though, how close the weather station is to the river makes all the difference.  Maybell's station is near the river and has recorded the official -61.   Craig Airport is a little away from the river, but still in a low place in the valley and has recorded a -51.   However, Craig 4SW station is up at the mine and only a few miles away and only 180 feet above the valley floor (which isn't that much change in elevation).   The record low up there is only -41, which is significantly warmer than the -51 and -61 at the other nearby stations.   Hayden Airport has only recorded temperatures down to -45, but the airport is on a little plateau above town.   Down in the town it actually gets much colder.    How close the weather station is to the river makes all the difference.   It's not that each one of those towns are colder or warmer than another, but where the weather station is located.    Some of my CDOT friends were able to record a (probably accurate) -65 at the Yampa River Bridge just south of Craig during the same cold snap that produced the -51 (they wanted to see how the extreme cold effects the bridge joints).  I have been working at that same bridge on and off for the last year as well, and it is very cold on winter nights by the river (While working on the bridge last winter we had several nights in the -30's even though the airport never reported a temperature below -29).

 

As for me, at my house the lowest reading I have recorded was a -48 on 2/2/2011, but I have only lived here since October 2004.  
 

As far as I can tell, Taylor Park and Maybell may have recorded the coldest temperatures anywhere in the world that is located this close to the equator.  


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#28
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 11:26 AM

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Dang.   I don't know why I didn't think of that one.  I actually live in that general area.   I have been to that Columbine many times, but guess it is so tiny and I didn't know that they ever had a weather station, so I was thinking it must be somewhere else.  Steamboat Springs did hit -29 on that day, so I could see it being colder in Columbine.  I actually recorded a 20 while camping near Columbine in August. 

 

 

Found it.  It appears that the weather data is under the station Two Buttes.

http://www.wrcc.dri....iMAIN.pl?co8510

I don't know what to think of the 90 reading in February.  Eversoll Ranch did supposedly record a 89 on 2/11/1951, so it can get warm in the area in February.  
 

 

I took a look at the Feb 1904 climatological report and dismissed it. Stations not too far away like Las Animas reached the lower 80s though. The 89 at Eversoll Ranch in Feb 1951 doesn't have a ton of support, however it was 82 at Las Animas the same day. However Eversoll Ranch is right near the CO/KS/OK triple point, so the reading could conceivably be accurate.


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#29
Scott

Posted 04 November 2016 - 11:40 AM

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I took a look at the Feb 1904 climatological report and dismissed it. Stations not too far away like Las Animas reached the lower 80s though. The 89 at Eversoll Ranch in Feb 1951 doesn't have a ton of support, however it was 82 at Las Animas the same day. However Eversoll Ranch is right near the CO/KS/OK triple point, so the reading could conceivably be accurate.

 

The nearest station to Eversoll Ranch would be Elkhart Kansas.  It hit 85 that day, so there is a slim possibility for the Eversoll Ranch reading, though it could be few degrees too high.  



#30
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 11:50 AM

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The nearest station to Eversoll Ranch would be Elkhart Kansas.  It hit 85 that day, so there is a slim possibility for the Eversoll Ranch reading, though it could be few degrees too high.  

Yeah I'd probably call it improbable then.


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#31
IbrChris

Posted 04 November 2016 - 11:54 AM

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I'm going to look into the 88 at Holly, CO on 2/19/2016.

Seems pretty legit...86 at Lamar on 2/19 and 85 at La Junta on 2/18.


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#32
Scott

Posted 04 November 2016 - 12:06 PM

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If non-populated places are counted, Pikes Peak recorded (almost certainly accurately) single digit June temperatures several times.  I remember when going through the data that 2 was the lowest.   Another year hit 4 and there were several other single digit readings (I'll have to look up which year).

 

 

In case anyone is interested, I looked at the Pikes Peak monthly summaries that I put into spreadsheets some years ago.

 

The Signal Corps data I was able to obtain (which is very detailed and likely very accurate) covered January 1874 to September 1888.   Five of the 15 years recorded temperatures 10 or lower in June.  

 

The lowest June reading for the five years is as follows:

 

2 in June 1882

4 in June 1875

7 in June 1876

8 in June 1880

10 in June 1877

 

For the period of record, the average low for June was 24.6 and the average low for June 1st was 20.5.  Interestingly, June is the only month in which Pikes Peak has lower record readings than all other places in Colorado.   


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#33
IbrChris

Posted 05 November 2016 - 05:30 AM

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That 2 in June 1882 would be the lowest June temp in the lower 48 besides a 0 at White Mtn, CA.


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#34
Scott

Posted 05 November 2016 - 07:31 PM

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Yes. White Mountain 2 also reported a 2 on 6/1/1967.

#35
happ

Posted 06 November 2016 - 09:30 AM

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The geographics are different but record highs are 125° or cooler in the other areas below sea level [lower Coachella/ Imperial valleys]. Anyone who has driven Route 78 from Julian [4200'] to the Salton Sink experiences the oven. But summer dew points are higher than Death Valley.

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#36
IbrChris

Posted 07 November 2016 - 09:18 AM

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A few noteworthy extremely hot (120+) readings outside Death Valley that appear to be at least possible if not credible:

  • 125 at Mecca, CA on 6/26/1990. One of the hottest death-ridges in the desert SW of the last century. Phoenix hit 122 in this event, their all-time record high. Litchfield Park, AZ hit 125 on 6/26. Nearby California readings on 6/25-27 include 122 at Blythe and Thermal, 121 Brawley, 122 Gold Rock Ranch, 120 Indio, Palm Springs and El Centro. It's possible the reading is 1-2 deg too warm although Mecca is in the ideal spot for hottest summer temps outside of the Colorado River Valley and Death Valley.
  • 126 at Mecca, CA on 9/2/1950. Other readings on 9/1-2 include 123 at Thermal, 122 at Indio, 121 at Blythe and Borrego Valley
  • 121 at Quartzsite and Gila Bend, AZ on 5/29 and 5/30/1910. 120 at Aztec, Casa Grande and Yuma on 5/30.
  • 128 at Lake Havasu City, AZ (state record) on 6/29/1994. 126 at Bullhead City on same day and on 5/28. 125 at Salome 17 SE on 6/29. This reading may be 1-2 deg too warm as LHC tends to run very similar to Bullhead City typically, though it's possible that LHC was a bit warmer. Of note some comparisons: In the June 1994 event LHC reached 128, Bullhead City 126 and Death Valley 126. In the June 2013 event LHC reached 122, Bullhead City 123 and Death Valley 128.
  • 127 at Parker on 7/7/1905. I thought this one would be easily dismissed, but plenty of corroborating readings on 7/6/1905: 126 at Tacna, 126 at Mohawk, 125 at Aztec. I believe this was the former AZ record.
  • 126 at Bullhead City on 7/16/1998. LHC 126 the same day. 129 at Death Valley on 7/18/1998, tied for all-time US record with events in July 2013, 2007, 2005.
  • 126 at Tacna on 7/28/1995. 125 at LHC on 7/27. 124 at Yuma on 7/28. 129 at Death Valley on 7/20/1995.
  • 124 at Parker on 8/10/1933 and Quartzsite on 8/12/1933. The 126 on 8/6/1905 at Parker is unsupported by nearby stations, though it is listed in the climatological publication for Aug 1905. The 1933 value is corroborated by 127 at Death Valley on 8/12/1933. In Arizona 121 at Agua Caliente, 120 at Roll, 120 at Mohawk, 119 Yuma.
  • 123 at Yuma Airport on 9/1/1950. 122 at Ehrenberg, 122 Mohawk, 120 Gila Bend, 120 Maricopa 8 SSE corroborate

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#37
IbrChris

Posted 07 November 2016 - 09:44 AM

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The geographics are different but record highs are 125° or cooler in the other areas below sea level [lower Coachella/ Imperial valleys]. Anyone who has driven Route 78 from Julian [4200'] to the Salton Sink experiences the oven. But summer dew points are higher than Death Valley.

Those higher summer DPs likely keep the highs a few degrees cooler than they would otherwise be...however the Imperial Valley is more broad than Death Valley and heating of the surrounding mountainsides also contributes to the extreme heat of Death Valley.


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#38
wx_statman

Posted 07 November 2016 - 09:47 AM

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A few noteworthy extremely hot (120+) readings outside Death Valley that appear to be at least possible if not credible:

  • 125 at Mecca, CA on 6/26/1990. One of the hottest death-ridges in the desert SW of the last century. Phoenix hit 122 in this event, their all-time record high. Litchfield Park, AZ hit 125 on 6/26. Nearby California readings on 6/25-27 include 122 at Blythe and Thermal, 121 Brawley, 122 Gold Rock Ranch, 120 Indio, Palm Springs and El Centro. It's possible the reading is 1-2 deg too warm although Mecca is in the ideal spot for hottest summer temps outside of the Colorado River Valley and Death Valley.
  • 126 at Mecca, CA on 9/2/1950. Other readings on 9/1-2 include 123 at Thermal, 122 at Indio, 121 at Blythe and Borrego Valley
  • 121 at Quartzsite and Gila Bend, AZ on 5/29 and 5/30/1910. 120 at Aztec, Casa Grande and Yuma on 5/30.
  • 128 at Lake Havasu City, AZ (state record) on 6/29/1994. 126 at Bullhead City on same day and on 5/28. 125 at Salome 17 SE on 6/29. This reading may be 1-2 deg too warm as LHC tends to run very similar to Bullhead City typically, though it's possible that LHC was a bit warmer. Of note some comparisons: In the June 1994 event LHC reached 128, Bullhead City 126 and Death Valley 126. In the June 2013 event LHC reached 122, Bullhead City 123 and Death Valley 128.
  • 127 at Parker on 7/7/1905. I thought this one would be easily dismissed, but plenty of corroborating readings on 7/6/1905: 126 at Tacna, 126 at Mohawk, 125 at Aztec. I believe this was the former AZ record.
  • 126 at Bullhead City on 7/16/1998. LHC 126 the same day. 129 at Death Valley on 7/18/1998, tied for all-time US record with events in July 2013, 2007, 2005.
  • 126 at Tacna on 7/28/1995. 125 at LHC on 7/27. 124 at Yuma on 7/28. 129 at Death Valley on 7/20/1995.
  • 124 at Parker on 8/10/1933 and Quartzsite on 8/12/1933. The 126 on 8/6/1905 at Parker is unsupported by nearby stations, though it is listed in the climatological publication for Aug 1905. The 1933 value is corroborated by 127 at Death Valley on 8/12/1933. In Arizona 121 at Agua Caliente, 120 at Roll, 120 at Mohawk, 119 Yuma.
  • 123 at Yuma Airport on 9/1/1950. 122 at Ehrenberg, 122 Mohawk, 120 Gila Bend, 120 Maricopa 8 SSE corroborate

 

 

What about 127 at Gold Rock Ranch, CA in July 1995 and 125 at Needles in July 2005?


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#39
IbrChris

Posted 07 November 2016 - 10:01 AM

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What about 127 at Gold Rock Ranch, CA in July 1995 and 125 at Needles in July 2005?

Gold Rock Ranch hit 127 supposedly on 7/28/1995. Some other readings in that episode (7/28-29) were 121 Brawley, 127 Death Valley (30th), 122 El Centro, 123 Imperial Sand Dunes, 125 Mecca, 123 Palm Springs, 126 Thermal so I definitely think the reading is in credible territory. The 126 at Thermal FAA Airport would be the hottest reading at a ASOS station in the US I think...the hotter ones are all COOP.

The Needles 125 occurred on 7/17/2005. Nearby readings were 121 at Blythe, 120 Borrego Park, 121 Brawley, 119 Imperial, 121 Mecca, 121 Palm Springs, 121 Parker Res. Along the Colorado River 124 at Bullhead City and 122 at Lake Havasu City both on 7/18/2005. 122 at Ehrenberg, AZ on 7/17.

Both seem fairly credible IMO.

 


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#40
Scott

Posted 07 November 2016 - 05:06 PM

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A few noteworthy extremely hot (120+) readings outside Death Valley that appear to be at least possible if not credible:

  • 125 at Mecca, CA on 6/26/1990. One of the hottest death-ridges in the desert SW of the last century. Phoenix hit 122 in this event, their all-time record high. Litchfield Park, AZ hit 125 on 6/26. Nearby California readings on 6/25-27 include 122 at Blythe and Thermal, 121 Brawley, 122 Gold Rock Ranch, 120 Indio, Palm Springs and El Centro. It's possible the reading is 1-2 deg too warm although Mecca is in the ideal spot for hottest summer temps outside of the Colorado River Valley and Death Valley.
  • 126 at Mecca, CA on 9/2/1950. Other readings on 9/1-2 include 123 at Thermal, 122 at Indio, 121 at Blythe and Borrego Valley
  • 121 at Quartzsite and Gila Bend, AZ on 5/29 and 5/30/1910. 120 at Aztec, Casa Grande and Yuma on 5/30.
  • 128 at Lake Havasu City, AZ (state record) on 6/29/1994. 126 at Bullhead City on same day and on 5/28. 125 at Salome 17 SE on 6/29. This reading may be 1-2 deg too warm as LHC tends to run very similar to Bullhead City typically, though it's possible that LHC was a bit warmer. Of note some comparisons: In the June 1994 event LHC reached 128, Bullhead City 126 and Death Valley 126. In the June 2013 event LHC reached 122, Bullhead City 123 and Death Valley 128.
  • 127 at Parker on 7/7/1905. I thought this one would be easily dismissed, but plenty of corroborating readings on 7/6/1905: 126 at Tacna, 126 at Mohawk, 125 at Aztec. I believe this was the former AZ record.
  • 126 at Bullhead City on 7/16/1998. LHC 126 the same day. 129 at Death Valley on 7/18/1998, tied for all-time US record with events in July 2013, 2007, 2005.
  • 126 at Tacna on 7/28/1995. 125 at LHC on 7/27. 124 at Yuma on 7/28. 129 at Death Valley on 7/20/1995.
  • 124 at Parker on 8/10/1933 and Quartzsite on 8/12/1933. The 126 on 8/6/1905 at Parker is unsupported by nearby stations, though it is listed in the climatological publication for Aug 1905. The 1933 value is corroborated by 127 at Death Valley on 8/12/1933. In Arizona 121 at Agua Caliente, 120 at Roll, 120 at Mohawk, 119 Yuma.
  • 123 at Yuma Airport on 9/1/1950. 122 at Ehrenberg, 122 Mohawk, 120 Gila Bend, 120 Maricopa 8 SSE corroborate

 

 

In my opinion, the most incredible 120+ temperature recorded in the United States was the 121 at Steele North Dakota on 7/6/1936.  It does seem to be plausible when comparing it to other weather stations in the region (New Salem hit 119).

 

As far as the Lake Havasu readings go, they are probably over-exposed.  As above, the other stations near Lake Havasu City reached 120 or 121, but no readings were close to 128.  Further the 1967 to 1991 station at Lake Havasu didn't have any readings higher than the 121 on 6/27/1990.   The new station reported at least 27 readings hotter than this since 1991.   It doesn't seem likely, especially when looking at the other nearby stations, even though there were some impressive heat waves during that time period.  

 

Mesquite Nevada also has an impressive 123 on 7/17/1998, but it may be a little too high?   

 

  • 127 at Parker on 7/7/1905. I thought this one would be easily dismissed, but plenty of corroborating readings on 7/6/1905: 126 at Tacna, 126 at Mohawk, 125 at Aztec. I believe this was the former AZ record.

     

    Imperial also reported a 124 on 7/6/1905.   They also reported a 124 on 8/16/1903.  I don't know the validity of the latter one.  


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#41
happ

Posted 07 November 2016 - 07:33 PM

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A few noteworthy extremely hot (120+) readings outside Death Valley that appear to be at least possible if not credible:

  • 125 at Mecca, CA on 6/26/1990. One of the hottest death-ridges in the desert SW of the last century. Phoenix hit 122 in this event, their all-time record high. Litchfield Park, AZ hit 125 on 6/26. Nearby California readings on 6/25-27 include 122 at Blythe and Thermal, 121 Brawley, 122 Gold Rock Ranch, 120 Indio, Palm Springs and El Centro. It's possible the reading is 1-2 deg too warm although Mecca is in the ideal spot for hottest summer temps outside of the Colorado River Valley and Death Valley.
  • 126 at Mecca, CA on 9/2/1950. Other readings on 9/1-2 include 123 at Thermal, 122 at Indio, 121 at Blythe and Borrego Valley
  • 121 at Quartzsite and Gila Bend, AZ on 5/29 and 5/30/1910. 120 at Aztec, Casa Grande and Yuma on 5/30.
  • 128 at Lake Havasu City, AZ (state record) on 6/29/1994. 126 at Bullhead City on same day and on 5/28. 125 at Salome 17 SE on 6/29. This reading may be 1-2 deg too warm as LHC tends to run very similar to Bullhead City typically, though it's possible that LHC was a bit warmer. Of note some comparisons: In the June 1994 event LHC reached 128, Bullhead City 126 and Death Valley 126. In the June 2013 event LHC reached 122, Bullhead City 123 and Death Valley 128.
  • 127 at Parker on 7/7/1905. I thought this one would be easily dismissed, but plenty of corroborating readings on 7/6/1905: 126 at Tacna, 126 at Mohawk, 125 at Aztec. I believe this was the former AZ record.
  • 126 at Bullhead City on 7/16/1998. LHC 126 the same day. 129 at Death Valley on 7/18/1998, tied for all-time US record with events in July 2013, 2007, 2005.
  • 126 at Tacna on 7/28/1995. 125 at LHC on 7/27. 124 at Yuma on 7/28. 129 at Death Valley on 7/20/1995.
  • 124 at Parker on 8/10/1933 and Quartzsite on 8/12/1933. The 126 on 8/6/1905 at Parker is unsupported by nearby stations, though it is listed in the climatological publication for Aug 1905. The 1933 value is corroborated by 127 at Death Valley on 8/12/1933. In Arizona 121 at Agua Caliente, 120 at Roll, 120 at Mohawk, 119 Yuma.
  • 123 at Yuma Airport on 9/1/1950. 122 at Ehrenberg, 122 Mohawk, 120 Gila Bend, 120 Maricopa 8 SSE corroborate

 

 

Mecca elevation is -187' on the marshland shore of the Salton Sea basin. Average May-Sept minimums are much cooler than Death Valley or Phoenix/ Las Vegas [@ 1000' + elevations] 

 

Average minimums

May 62.6

June 68.5

July 75.2

August 75.4

September: 68.9

 

 

Death Valley

May: 72.7

June: 81.2

July 88.0

August: 85.7

September: 75.6



#42
IbrChris

Posted 08 November 2016 - 06:45 AM

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In my opinion, the most incredible 120+ temperature recorded in the United States was the 121 at Steele North Dakota on 7/6/1936.  It does seem to be plausible when comparing it to other weather stations in the region (New Salem hit 119).

 

As far as the Lake Havasu readings go, they are probably over-exposed.  As above, the other stations near Lake Havasu City reached 120 or 121, but no readings were close to 128.  Further the 1967 to 1991 station at Lake Havasu didn't have any readings higher than the 121 on 6/27/1990.   The new station reported at least 27 readings hotter than this since 1991.   It doesn't seem likely, especially when looking at the other nearby stations, even though there were some impressive heat waves during that time period.  

 

Mesquite Nevada also has an impressive 123 on 7/17/1998, but it may be a little too high?   

 

  • Imperial also reported a 124 on 7/6/1905.   They also reported a 124 on 8/16/1903.  I don't know the validity of the latter one.  

 

Bullhead City was 126 that day, obviously if nothing else were above 120-121 I would have dismissed the 128...granted I think something like 125-126 was more likely that day at LHC.

It seems like each event has a slightly different nature...sometimes the core of the heat is centered toward CA...other times toward AZ, sometimes as far east as Gila Bend/Casa Grande. It doesn't seem to be a standard thermal regime across the entire region. This makes sense because Death Valley is far enough removed from the lower Colorado Valley that if a weather system brings scattered high clouds to Death Valley it can be clear and a couple deg hotter to the SE. Of course in summertime diurnal convection trends can influence highs and I'd venture to guess when we are talking 120+ any clouds blocking insolation have a big impact. Topography also plays a role with the area around Bullhead City/LHC having more of a canyon topography than Yuma.

I do agree with you that LHC is probably a bit overexposed in some of the mid 1990s events, though NCEI hasn't removed the values with QC scrubbing like it has for many other stations.


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#43
IbrChris

Posted 08 November 2016 - 06:53 AM

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Mecca elevation is -187' on the marshland shore of the Salton Sea basin. Average May-Sept minimums are much cooler than Death Valley or Phoenix/ Las Vegas [@ 1000' + elevations] 

 

Average minimums

May 62.6

June 68.5

July 75.2

August 75.4

September: 68.9

 

 

Death Valley

May: 72.7

June: 81.2

July 88.0

August: 85.7

September: 75.6

 

No urban heat island...Phoenix used to average upper 70s for lows in July in the early 1900s. Death Valley is a different animal entirely of course.


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#44
Eujunga

Posted 08 November 2016 - 10:38 AM

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"Death Valley’s barren surface is typically bone dry in summer, and it warms easily under the high desert sun. Surface temperatures of 200°F have been measured, as was the case on July 15, 1972 when the ground surface temperature reached 201°F; at the same time the shelter air temperature stood at 128°F. Since little solar radiation is utilized for evaporation and transpiration, nearly all ‘incoming’ solar radiation (that is not reflected skyward) heats the ground. Intense daytime heating of the surface creates a relatively hot, near-ground layer of air characterized by very steep lapse rates (a ‘super-adiabatic’ layer). This creates a very unstable environment and a strong vertical exchange of air is required to mitigate and regulate such. By early afternoon any vestiges of overnight cooling have ‘mixed out’ entirely, and there is deep mixing throughout the lower half of the troposphere throughout the region. Above the near-ground ‘super-adiabatic’ layer, the environmental lapse rate is at (or very near) the dry adiabatic lapse rate of 5.4°F per 1000 feet. The unconditionally unstable, deep, mixed layer typically extends up to about the 600-millibar level (about 15,000 feet above the bottom of Death Valley) on nearly every summer afternoon."

 

 

I understand this principle as it applies to daytime warming, but I'm still not clear on why the atmosphere doesn't decouple at night in basins such as Death Valley.  The hot 88-degree average low in July (with the occasional night staying above 100 degrees) suggests the atmosphere remains well-mixed all the way to the surface.

 

Or, to put it more generally, why aren't summer nights in low desert valleys cooler?  The diurnal spread is rarely more than 30 degrees, even in locations and conditions that would seem optimal for a wider spread.


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#45
Scott

Posted 08 November 2016 - 11:37 AM

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Bullhead City was 126 that day, obviously if nothing else were above 120-121 I would have dismissed the 128...granted I think something like 125-126 was more likely that day at LHC.

 

 

Bullhead City and Laughlin did record a 126 and 125 that day, but I was referring to the stations closer to Lake Havasu City.   Both stations in Parker, for example "only" recorded a 121 as did Needles.      It does seem a little strange since Lake Havasu is right between the two, but I guess it could be possible.  



#46
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Posted 09 November 2016 - 07:53 AM

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Bullhead City and Laughlin did record a 126 and 125 that day, but I was referring to the stations closer to Lake Havasu City.   Both stations in Parker, for example "only" recorded a 121 as did Needles.      It does seem a little strange since Lake Havasu is right between the two, but I guess it could be possible.  

 

Ah gotcha...for some reason I was thinking those two stations (Bullhead and LHC) were closer together than they actually are. Only thing I can think of is some sort of patchy cloud cover/convection or a breeze off the Colorado (assuming the stations are close to the river).

I would say the reading is probably overexposed by 1-2 deg at least...maybe 3-4.


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#47
Scott

Posted 09 November 2016 - 08:42 AM

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Only thing I can think of is some sort of patchy cloud cover/convection or a breeze off the Colorado (assuming the stations are close to the river).

 

Possible.


I would say the reading is probably overexposed by 1-2 deg at least...maybe 3-4.

 

 

It is interesting to compare the summer extremes for the pre-1991 station with the post 1991 station.   The two stations are very close together.

 

987347.JPG

 

987348.JPG

 

The new station has beat the old station's all time record at least 27 times between 1991 and 2012.



#48
IbrChris

Posted 09 November 2016 - 10:02 AM

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Possible.

 

It is interesting to compare the summer extremes for the pre-1991 station with the post 1991 station.   The two stations are very close together.

 

987347.JPG

 

987348.JPG

 

The new station has beat the old station's all time record at least 27 times between 1991 and 2012.

Interesting...yeah the new station definitely appears warmer. Have you located both on Google Maps to verify there's not much difference in terms of proximity to the river?


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#49
Scott

Posted 09 November 2016 - 12:57 PM

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Have you located both on Google Maps to verify there's not much difference in terms of proximity to the river?

 

 

The first station is very close to the lake and the second one is 0.15 miles from the lake.  It still seems like a lot of difference for a short distance, but there should be some difference.   I could see that amount of change in a place like Coastal California, but it does seem too much change for a desert reservoir.  



#50
happ

Posted 14 November 2016 - 10:39 PM

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