The hottest place on Earth is Death Valley, right on the border between Nevada and California. Death Valley owns the record for the hottest air temperature ever recorded, a sweltering 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913. That’s not all: there are two days tied for the second hottest temperature on record, one in 2020 and one in 2021 – both measured in Death Valley at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. A tie for fourth place rounds out the top five, with temperatures of 129 degrees Fahrenheit having been recorded in 2016 in Kuwait and 2013 in, you guessed it, Death Valley. But that’s not all: Death Valley also holds the record for the highest ground temperature, with a measurement of 201 degrees on a hot July day in 1972. To put that in perspective, people in Death Valley on that day were only 11 degrees away from being able to boil a pot of water on the dirt.
So how did Death Valley get to be so blisteringly hot? There are a few factors that come into play. The air in the valley is very clear and dry, so there’s nothing to absorb heat from the sun’s rays before they reach the ground, which is dark and lightly vegetated. The mountain ranges on either side of the valley also contribute by trapping hot air when it rises, redirecting it back down into the valley. Death Valley’s north-south orientation also means that the mountains block the prevailing east-west winds, preventing them from entering the valley and cooling it. Finally, the valley receives warm air from the nearby Mojave Desert, heating it further.
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