Temperatures simulated by the GFS model in the Middle East on Friday, 22 July 2016, reached 129 degrees (54 Celsius). Graphic: WeatherBell.com

By Jason Samenow
22 July 2016

(Washington Post) – The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait, surged Thursday to a blistering 129.2 degrees (54 Celsius). And on Friday in Basra, Iraq, the mercury soared to 129.0 degrees (53.9 Celsius). If confirmed, these incredible measurements would represent the two hottest temperatures ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters and weather historian Christopher Burt, who broke the news.

It’s also possible that Mitribah’s 129.2-degree reading matches the hottest ever reliably measured anywhere in the world. Both Mitribah and Basra’s readings are likely the highest ever recorded outside of Death Valley, Calif.

Death Valley currently holds the record for the world’s hottest temperature of 134.1 degrees (56.7 Celsius), set July 10, 1913. But Weather Underground’s Burt does not believe it is a credible measurement: “[T]he record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States,” Burt wrote. “I don’t have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence.”

If you discard the Death Valley record from 1913, the 129.2-degree reading from Mitribah Thursday would tie the world’s highest known temperature, also observed in Death Valley on June 30, 2013, and in Tirat Tsvi, Israel, on June 22, 1942. But Masters says the Israeli measurement is controversial.

Basra, the city of 1.5 million about 75 miles northwest of the Persian Gulf, has registered historic heat on two straight days. On Thursday, it hit 128 degrees (53.6 Celsius), the highest temperature ever recorded in Iraq, which it then surpassed on Friday, rising to 129. [more]

Two Middle East locations hit 129 degrees, hottest ever in Eastern Hemisphere, maybe the world


A scorching week in Mitribah, Kuwait culminated in a 54.0°C (129.2°F) reading on 21 July 2016 (high temp data on the chart is for the previous day). This is arguably, along with a similar value observed in Death Valley on 20 June 2013, the hottest temperature ever reliably measured on Earth. Graphic: OGIMET

By Christopher C. Burt
22 July 2016

(wunderground.com) – As Jeff Masters mentioned in his recent blog, a temperature of 54.0°C (129.2°F) was observed at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21st. According to the Kuwait Meteorological Department this was the hottest temperature ever measured in the country (a reading of 54.4°C/129.9°F observed at the same site on July 16, 2010 has been disallowed as a result of a faulty sensor). The 54.0°C reading also is a new record for Asia and ties a similar reading at Death Valley (on June 30, 2013) as the hottest reliably measured temperature on Earth. The key word here is ‘reliably’. Many hotter temperatures have been reported from around the world in years past. However, all of these have credibility issues. In that vein I am going to revisit a blog I first posted on WU in October 2010 listing all the various claims to temperature readings at or above 54°C (129.2°F). In the years since I made that post I’ve learned more about some of these claims and have thus updated my entries and ‘validity’ scores as a result.

There are just a handful of regions in the world that have the potential of recording temperatures of 54°C (129.2°F) or more (excluding heat burst measurements).

  1. Death Valley, California and the Colorado Desert in the southern part of the state (where anecdotal temperatures as high as 130°F have been reported and temperatures as hot as 126°F (52.2°C) officially measured (at Thermal on July 28, 1995 and Mecca on June 26, 1990). Also, the Colorado River Valley from the southern tip of Nevada to the Gulf of California can be as hot or even hotter, with a reading of 128°F (53.3°C) measured at Lake Havasu City, Arizona on June 29, 1994 (this reading is now suspect given problems with temperature observations at many sites in Arizona during the late 1980s and early 1990s. See: this report concerning Tucson)).
  2. In 2010 I thought that possibly some portions of the western Sahara Desert, specifically the Tidikelt Depression in Algeria, and lowest areas of northern Mali and northeastern Mauritania might be capable of producing temperatures in excess of 54°C. I no longer believe that to be the case. No reliable temperature above 51°C has ever been measured anywhere in North Africa. There are a few weather stations in these areas, such as In Salah, Algeria and Araouane in Mali but they have never seen temperatures above 50°C in their modern history.
  3. Areas around the Persian Gulf. The populated areas along and just inland along the shores of the northern Persian Gulf have measured official temperatures as high as 54°C as we have just recently witnessed at Mitribah, Kuwait, and 53.9°C (129.0°F) at Basrah, Iraq today (July 22nd), a new national heat record for Iraq. Unofficial temperatures of 129°F (53.9°C) have been reported from southwestern Iran as well.
  4. The region along the lower Indus River of Pakistan centered around Jacobabad. Temperatures as high as 128.3°F (53.5°C) have been measured here (Moen-jo-Daro on May 26, 2010) and 125° is reached almost every year during May in Jacobabad. We can speculate that at some point 129°-130°F may be possible.
  5. Other regions of potential extreme heat include the eastern part of the Dasht E Lut Desert in Iran (no records). MODIS satellite measurements have reported extremely hot surface temperatures in the Lut Desert but there are no weather stations in the immediate vicinity (although I hear such are planned). Further down the list are the Dead Sea area of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan (where temperatures up to almost 126°F (52°C) have been measured, and the central-western inland coastal region of Saudi Arabia (around Jeddah) where 126°F (52°C) has also been measured.

Studies by geographer Mark Jefferson (1926) and by Hoffman (1963) conclude that the highest possible surface air temperature on earth (measured by standard modern instruments) would be in the range of 131-133°F (see Weather and Climate Extremes by Dr. Paul F. Krause and Kathleen L. Flood, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Topographic Engineering Center paper TEC-0099, September 1997. This is an old report and does not take into account AGW. Nevertheless, as of right now, I think this assumption still holds true. [more]

Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth

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