Unusual & Impressive Weather Records: Temperature

On November 15, 2014 by Tim Newman

Super cell storm Nebraska GIF

On this shiny blue ball we call home life has developed and thrives in the thinnest of margins. If we were just a smidgen closer to the sun or a touch further away, life would either be burned to a crisp or frozen solid. Some parts of earth today are still pretty inhospitable and rarely visited by man, they’re a reminder of how lucky our spinning ball really was to end up in such a sweet spot.

Weather does a pretty good job of keeping us in our place. Tornadoes, big freezes, huge hail, they’re rare enough to allow us to keep living on earth, but when they decide to kick off, us humans stand puny and tired in their shadows.

All of these records are from actual recorded events, other places claim to have beaten these records but measurements weren’t taken so I haven’t included them. Let’s start with general hotness…

Highest Temperatures Ever Recorded

The standard practice for measuring temperature on land is to measure it two metres above the ground and shielded from the sun i.e. just above your head in the shade. Here are the winners…

1) Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, California – 56.7 °C (134 °F)

Weather - hottest place on earth - Furnace Creek Ranch

On the 10th July 1913 the aptly named Furnace Creek cranked the dial up to 56.7 °C (134 °F)

2) Kebili, Tunisia – 55.0 °C (131 °F)

Weather - hottest place on earth - Kebili, Tunisia

3) Sulaibya, Kuwait – 53.6 °C (128.5 °F)

Weather - hottest place on earth - Sulaibya, Kuwait tyre graveyard

Sulaibya also hosts the world’s largest tyre graveyard with over 7 million already in the ground. I bet that little lot smells lovely in the heat of the midday sun. One reason for the plant’s impressive size is that this sort of dumping is illegal in Europe, so we bung them over there. Nice one humans.

Another way of measuring ground temperature is from space using satellites which measure the “land skin temperature” which gives the amount of heating of a certain parcel of ground from the sun, the atmosphere and other heat sources. When this type of measurement was carried out by Landsat satellites over 5 consecutive years the Lut desert in Iran hit the highest temperatures at an amazing 159.3 F (70.7 C).

Weather - hottest place on earth - Lut Desert

Just FYI, the hottest temperature ever recorded in England was in Faversham, Kent in 2003 and was a puny 38.5 °C (101.3 °F).

Coldest Places On Earth

Again, these are the coldest recorded temperatures and the top three will probably be of no surprise to you all…

Antarctica, Vostok Station −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F)

Coldest Place on earth Antarctica, Vostok Station

Despite Antarctica having no indigenous people they have a few scientists dotted around. With humans go churches: Click here to see pictures of the churches of Antarctica.

Russia, Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon −68 °C (−90 °F)

Coldest Place on earth Russia Omyakon

Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk have got an ongoing inter-town beef. Both reckon they are the coldest place to live in Russia. Once things for sure, they’re both virtually uninhabitable. Click here for more pictures of Oymyakon.

Greenland, North Ice −66.1 °C (−87.0 °F)

Coldets spots on earth north-ice-greenland

Temperature Change Records

Highest and lowest temperatures are interesting but had you ever wondered about the quickest temperature changes on the earth’s surface? No neither had I. The prize for the fastest drop and the quickest rise both go to South Dakota:

Fastest Temperature Rise

27 °C (49 °F) in two minutes; Spearfish, South Dakota, 1943-01-22

Fastest Temperature Rise Spearfish South Dakota

In January 1943 at about 7:30 a.m., the temperature in Spearfish was −4°F (−20°C). The Chinook wind picked up speed rapidly, and two minutes later the temperature was +45 °F (+7 °C) above zero.

By 9:00 am, the temperature had risen to 54 °F (12 °C). Suddenly, the chinook died down and the temperature tumbled back to −4 °F (−20 °C). That 58 °F (32 °C) drop took just 27 minutes. The sudden change in temperatures caused glass windows to crack and windshields to instantly frost over.

Fastest Temperature Drop:

27°C (47°F) in 5 minutes; Rapid City, South Dakota, 1943-01-22

Fastest Temperature Drop Rapid CitySouth Dakota

On the same day as the incredible temperature rise mentioned above, this incredible temperature drop occurred too. The temperature dropped from a relatively clement 16°C (60°F) to a sinister and frosty -11°C (13°F).

Isn’t that a couple of mad facts to end on? Click here for the next edition where I bang on about rainfall for you.





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