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Death Valley regains record for hottest place on Earth

The World Meteorological Organization finds mistakes in a 1922 reading from North Africa that had supplanted a 1913 temperature of 134 degrees in Death Valley.

September 16, 2012|By Julie Cart, Los Angeles Times

It took 99 years, but Death Valley finally got the record.

The World Meteorological Organization announced last week that it now considers Death Valley National Park the hottest place on Earth.

The highest recorded surface temperature of 134 degrees (56.7 degrees Celsius) was measured on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch — now fittingly called Furnace Creek.

That was apparently surpassed on Sept. 13, 1922, with a reading of 136.4 degrees (58 C) in what is now Libya.

But that reading long has been disputed. An international panel investigated and found a number of mistakes had been made at the time by an inexperienced observer.

The record reading at Death Valley came during a week of extreme heat in which the high reached at least 127 degrees each day.

The ranch caretaker, Oscar Denton, was also the region's weather observer and reportedly said of the 134-degree day: "It was so hot that swallows in full flight fell to the Earth dead. When I went out to read the thermometer with a wet Turkish towel on my head, it was dry before I returned."

julie.cart@latimes.com

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