Death Valley is known worldwide for its extreme heat. On average, the area experiences 192 days a year above 90 degrees. The Furnace Creek weather station, at 190ft below sea level, holds the records for the highest recorded air temperature on Earth (134 deg F), as well as the hottest natural ground temperature (201 deg F).
Last year, Furnace Creek set the record for the hottest month ever recored on the planet. The average temperature, calculated from each days high and low, was 107.98 degrees.
Not to be outdone, Death Valley recorded an average temperature this July of 108.1 degrees, making it the new hottest month ever recorded. A particularly toasty few days near the end of the month set daily record highs, maxing out at 127 degrees. In a normal year, the valley usually sees 15-30 days above 120 degrees. That’s darn hot.
Is it all because of global warming? Hard to say. An usual jet stream and large ridge of high pressure sitting over Death Valley for the entire month contributed to the persistent heat. Many scientists are linking the crazy July heat waves seen around the world to climate change.
Why is Death Valley so hot? The long narrow basin surrounded by large mountains trap hot air and cause it to circulate like a convection oven. The lack of vegetation also means the rocks and ground absorb loads of solar radiation, further heating the air. The valley got its name in the days of the California Gold Rush after the harsh conditions claimed the lives of countless prospectors.