California’s brutal heat wave led to unthinkable temperatures in the desert valley.
You wouldn’t expect a place named Death Valley to be particularly pleasant, but it reached new levels this weekend. On Sept. 2, the desert valley in Eastern California reached temperatures of 127 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Park Service. That is believed to be the hottest temperature that has ever been recorded in September anywhere on Earth.
If you think 127 degrees is hot, well, you’re right. But that was just the temperature in the air. According to the National Park Service, ground temperatures broke the 200-degree mark, reaching as high as 201 degrees Fahrenheit. That heat radiates back into the air, creating a bit of a feedback loop that makes the air even hotter. That’s more than hot enough to cook an egg on the ground if you wanted to, and nearly hot enough to melt your sneakers.
The scorcher of a day didn’t quite break the all-time record for the hottest temperature on Earth — that distinction belongs to a July day in 1913, where Death Valley saw temperatures of up to 134 degrees. But topping that record is still on the table. The heat has carried over through Labor Day weekend and into this week, and there is a chance to see temperatures in the 120s again.
The heat isn’t concentrated in Death Valley, either. The entire state of California is getting hounded by the heat. It’s so bad that Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. More than 50 million people across the West Coast are under a heat advisory, forcing people to rely on air conditioning and other cooling techniques to beat the heat — which is stressing out the electrical grid.
As the planet continues to warm, don’t expect records like this one to hold for long — and remember that while there is a novelty in setting these new high temperatures, they are always part of a larger wave of weather that is affecting millions of people.