On August 16, Death Valley, a national park in California and Nevada, recorded a preliminary high temperature of 54.4 degrees Celsius. If verified, it could be the hottest temperature recorded in the world since 1913. 

Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded on Earth

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported the news, adding that the previous temperature record of 56.6 degrees Celsius was reported over 100 years ago, also in Death Valley. The agency is warning people who live in eastern California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah to limit their time outside to between 5am and 8am.

It comes amid a heatwave on the US’s west coast, where temperatures are forecast to rise even further this week.

Why is the Death Valley so hot?

This heat is the result of a high pressure system that has settled over much of the West Coast in the US. During this time of year, the West and southwestern US usually experience the North American monsoon, the agency says. However, the monsoon hasn’t developed as it typically does so Death Valley is getting hotter under high pressure. 

The scorching conditions have led to two days of blackouts in California, after a power plant malfunctioned on Saturday.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July was the hottest July on record for seven states along the East Coast. 

This extreme weather event is a frightening reminder that the climate crisis is not some far-off concept that most people won’t see in their lifetimes. It is happening now and it will continue to impact people all around the world in various ways- some will experience intense heat that will affect their ability to move around comfortably, while others will be forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of flooding or other extreme weather events. As always, this should be a stark warning to the world that we need to move towards a greener future- our lives quite literally depend on it.