An automated measuring system in California's Death Valley reported a temperature of 130F (54.4C) amid a blistering heatwave on Sunday, a reading that would be among the highest ever recorded globally if it is confirmed.
The temperature was recorded at 3.41pm at Furnace Creek near the park's visitor centre, the National Weather Service said in a statement that described the measurement as preliminary and not yet official.
"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," the statement said.
The location holds the world record for highest temperature ever recorded — 134F (56.67C) — set on July 10 1913. That record, however, remains in dispute.
Per the climate data in xmACIS2, this is the first time since 1913 that Death Valley has reached 130F. In July 2013, it last reached 129F. If valid, it would be the hottest August temperature at the site by 3F. @NWSVegaspic.twitter.com/gZNBW4NXI4
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 16, 2020
The World Meteorological Organisation said in a tweet that it also will work to verify Sunday's measurement.
"This would be the hottest global temperature officially recorded since 1931," it said.
That temperature was 131F (55C) recorded in Kebili, Tunisia, on July 7, 1931, and it also is disputed.
WMO will verify the temperature of 130°F (54.4C) reported at Death Valley, California, on Sunday. This would be the hottest global temperature officially recorded since 1931. pic.twitter.com/AOaWHKWVKJ
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) August 17, 2020
Death Valley, an austere landscape in the desert of south-eastern California, includes Badwater Basin, which at 282ft (85.9m) below sea level is the lowest point in North America.
Summer heat is so routinely extreme that tourists are warned to drink at least a gallon (4ltr) of water each day, carry additional water in their cars, stay close to their vehicles and watch themselves and others for dizziness, nausea and other symptoms of potentially deadly heat illness.