A Brief History
On July 10, 1913, the verified recorded high temperature in Death Valley, California, reached a stunning and sweltering 134.4°F, the highest recorded temperature in the world accepted by scientists. Here we list 10 Amazing Weather Records, and ask you to nominate other remarkable or interesting weather data for inclusion on the list. (Of course, the data cited here is only during the brief time humans have been scientifically recording weather phenomena, and more extreme examples of weather would certainly have taken place at some other point in the 5 billion year existence of Earth.) We use Fahrenheit degrees, mph, and inches because we are in the United States.
Update: The summer of 2019 has been a hot one for Europe, among other places. On June 28, 2019, France hit their all time record high of 45.1C (or 113F) as temperatures baked a Europe largely not equipped with air conditioning. On the curious side, the highest temperature ever recorded in Alasaka, 100F, matches the highest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii exactly! How about that?
1. Highest Temperature on Earth, 134.4°F, Death Valley, USA.
In the past I recall seeing a temperature of 136°F attributed to El Azizia, Libya in North Africa, but that reading has been discredited in recent years (2012) because it was taken over an asphalt like surface, likely to magnify the temperature reading.
2. Lowest Temperature on Earth, -128.6°F, Vostok Station, Antarctica.
On July 21, 1983, Soviet scientists at ground level recorded the record low temperature taken by ground observation. A satellite observation of Dome Argus/Dome Fuji in Antarctica (elevation 3900 meters) indicated a temperature at the surface of a frigid -135.8°F! To contemplate what temperatures like these would be compounded by wind chill factor is too terrible to consider!
3. Lowest Temperature in the United States, -70.6°F, Montana.
Rogers Pass, Montana holds the record for low temperature among the 48 contiguous states, but as cold as that record is, Alaska beat it handily in 1971 with a reading of -80.0°F at Prospect Creek. (Did you know… Alaska is the Northernmost State, the Easternmost State and the Westernmost State?)
4. Most Rain in 1 hour, 12 inches, Holt, Missouri, USA.
On June 22, 1946, the Show Me State got soaked by 12 inches of rain in only 1 hour, the heaviest 1 hour rainfall anywhere in the world ever recorded. If you are surprised the record is not held by some lush tropical rainforest or land of monsoons, join the crowd… I was shocked to find this information out as well.
5. Most Rain in 24 hours, 71.9 inches, Cilaos, Reunion Island.
During Tropical Storm Denise in 1966, the French Island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean East of Madagascar was drenched by a mind boggling 71.9 inches of rain in a 24 hour period, a staggering amount of water. No stranger to rainfall records, Reunion holds the records for Most Rain in 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, 72 hours and 96 hours. Bring an umbrella!
6. Rainiest Place on Earth, Annually, 467.4 inches, Meghalaya, India.
This state of Northeast India gets a massive annual rainfall, but in 1860-1861 the hapless wet people of the state got 1042 inches of rain dumped on them, more than double the already record setting annual average!
7. Most Snow in 1 Day, 101 inches, Capracotta, Italy.
With an elevation of only 4662 feet, you would think Capracotta would be beaten for this record by more mountainous places, but on March 5, 2015, the thousand or so residents could claim a new World Record by 25 inches, best the previous record of 75.8 inches in a day held by Silver Lake, Colorado. For perspective, Buffalo, New York, is one of the snowiest major cities in the US, getting between 96 and 112 inches of snow per year (depending on the source of data).
8. Most Snow in 1 Year, 102 feet, Mount Ranier, Washington, USA.
From February 19, 1971 to February 18, 1972, Mount Ranier got more of the white stuff than any other place on the planet, at least as recorded by certified weather observers. Normally, it’s nice to be #1, but in this case I would take a pass…
9. Fastest Wind Speed on Earth, 302 mph, Oklahoma.
On May 3, 1999, during a tornado between Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, radar measured a 3 second gust of over 300 mph, with a plus/minus factor of about 20 mph. The highest windspeed measured with an anemometer was taken at Barrow Island, Australia, at 253 mph during Cyclone Olivia in 1996.
10. Largest Hailstone Diameter, 8 inches, Vivian, South Dakota.
On July 23, 2010, this giant ice ball fell on South Dakota, the largest hailstone ever measured. Its circumference of 18.625 inches is edged out by a hailstone that fell on Nebraska in 2003, with a circumference of 18.75 inches, though its diameter was a paltry 7 inches. (Irregular shapes account for the seeming inconsistent measurements.) These preposterously large hailstones are exactly why one should keep one’s car in the garage!
Question for students (and subscribers): What is the worst weather that you have experienced? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Burt, Christopher C. Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book (Revised and Updated). W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.
Ganeri, Anita. The Usborne Book of Weather Facts: Records, Lists, Facts, Comparisons. Usborne Pub Ltd, 1987.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA of the ranch known for being the location of the hottest temperature recorded on earth at 56.7 °C (134 °F) on July 10, 1913, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. This image was originally posted to Flickr by Ken Lund at https://flickr.com/photos/75683070@N00/16723671226. It was reviewed on by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.