California's Death Valley hits 127 degrees, the hottest September day on the planet

It is just shy of its all-time record high.
Nergis Firtina
Sailing Stones on the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley
Sailing Stones on the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley


The hottest place on Earth has set a new record.

The thermostat of Death Valley, a desert valley located in Eastern California, hit its highest temperature in recent times on September 1.

Death Valley's thermometer showed 127°F (53°C) this week, making it the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere on the planet in the month of September, as per CBS News.

"The ground heats up, we've measured temperatures of 201 as far as ground temperatures. The ground is then radiating heat back up into the air," Death Valley National Park spokeswoman Abby Wines told the publication.

The Earth's highest temperature was recorded at Death Valley on June 10, 1913, at 134 °F (56°C) — meaning the latest reading narrowly missed out on setting a new record.

California's Death Valley hits 127 degrees, the hottest September day on the planet
Death Valley National Park

Why is Death Valley one of the hottest places on Earth?

There are many reasons why Death Valley's weather is so hot.

First, Death Valley's summertime temperatures are influenced by its depth and form. Despite being 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level, the valley is long and narrow and is walled by high, steep mountain ranges. The sun heats the desert's surface because of the clear, dry air and the lack of vegetation.

As overnight lows may only fall into the 85°F to 95°F (30°C to 35°C) range, summer nights don't offer much relief. The valley's mountain walls prevent heated air from rising over them, so it cools and is recycled back to the valley floor. These areas of falling air are only somewhat cooler than the hot air around them.

The low elevation air pressure causes them to be squeezed and heated even more as they drop. Extremely high temperatures are produced in the valley by these blowing masses of flowing, highly warmed air.

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Once in a thousand years: raindrops

Known for being one of the hottest places in the world, Death Valley is also one of the driest. But last July, Death Valley experienced a once-in-a-thousand-year event: the flood.

Unusually heavy rain for July, Death Valley National Park experienced flash floods that swept away cars, shut down all routes, and left hundreds of visitors and staff trapped.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but approximately 60 vehicles were buried in mud and debris, and approximately 500 visitors and 500 park workers were trapped inside the park, according to officials.

“Entire trees and boulders were washing down,” said John Sirlin to Huffington Post — a photographer for an Arizona-based adventure firm. Sirlin was perched on a hillside boulder trying to get images of lightning as the storm approached and saw the floods.

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