Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

General Palm Springs area.

Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby Perry » Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:28 pm

Before you laugh, consider the math and estimations here. Apparently 130 °F is the highest undisputed air temperature, not the 134 °F and 136 °F that used to be in the record books. The Thermal airport has recorded 126 °F officially, and I've heard that the temperature at the rock slide feels warmer than the trailhead in Thermal. Also, I've seen the rocks from a distance, and they are dark!
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby hiiker » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:33 pm

The 134F (July 10, 1913) Death Valley temp is still in the record books. Unfortunately some think or believe it wasn't an accurate reading because supposedly the instruments weren't as accurate back then as they are today or that the official records were fudged. So mercury in those old thermometers was different back then. Nope, that's a crazy notion.

Here's a few things to consider before we start throwing out old records due to accuracy questions or if someone fudged them.

1. If the temp back then wasn't 134F, perhaps it was actually higher.
2. Today's temps in DV are now taken in a completely changed environment. There's lots of man-made things nearby now that affects the ground temp.
3. The location of the where the temp measurements are take now is in a different location than the 1913 location.
4. On July 12, 1913 the temp measurement was 130F and the next day it was 131F.

That Death Valley temp record story was just media hype IMO.

Yes a darker surface will be hotter than a lighter colored surface.
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby phydeux » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:36 am

Isn't the temp in Death Valley Natl Park taken at that fenced-in area in back of the Visitor's Center near Furnace creek? The temp sensor is in a well-ventilated 'hutch' so its taken in the shade and not direct sunlight (as its supposed to be).

FWIW: Back when I was working with a bio-analysis lab we had new ovens and coolers that used new-fangled electronic sensors to measure and keep track of the temperatures in the units. However, the ovens and coolers sensors had to be calibrated on a regular basis and to do that you had to use a mercury thermometer who's accuracy was traceable back to an approved manufacturer and an approve calibration lab. The new sensors were made of metal alloys and some composites (oxides or similar), and they had the potential to degrade over time, so the reason for the regular recalibration. Not sure if that's still a problem these days or if the sensors have been improved since that time.
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby RichardK » Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:10 am

The Las Vegas office of the NWS put this announcement on their Facebook page:

US National Weather Service Las Vegas Nevada
August 17 at 1:16 PM ·
There is much discussion recently on the Preliminary Record of 130° degrees Fahrenheit measured at @DeathValleyNPS on 16 August 2020. This post is intended to answer some questions regarding the measurement.

Death Valley recorded a high temperature of 129.9° F @ 3:41 PM PDT on Sun, Aug 16, 2020. If verified, it will be the hottest official temperature since July of 1913. More on this topic below. Keep reading.

This temperature was measured @DeathValleyNPS Visitors Center in Furnace Creek using a @NWS owned automated observation system. The elevation of this equipment is -193 feet below sea level
(193 ft below sea level)

The temperature sensor is rated up to 158° degrees F and measures at 0.018° degrees F accuracy. The equipment is maintained regularly by @NWSVegas Electronic Technicians. Preliminary findings indicate it was in proper working condition at the time of the observation.

This high temperature is considered preliminary pending a formal review. A Climate Extremes Committee of experts will be formed to verify the validity of the 130° F reading. This process will take some time. An announcement will be once it is completed.

If validate the 130° F yesterday would tie for the 3rd most reliably measured, all-time global high temperature and will be the hottest temperature officially verified since July of 1913, also at Death Valley.

#1 - 134°F, July 10th, 1913
#2 - 131°F -July 13th, 1913
#3 - 130°F -July 12th, 1913
130°F -August 16th, 2020*

The observations from 1913 were also recorded at Furnace Creek (formerly Greenland Ranch). It is important to stress that the above-listed records (other than yesterday’s recording) are considered official World Meteorological Organization World Records.

We are in the midst of a long-duration extreme heat event. Another run at 130°+ temperatures in Death Valley remains possible

You can track real-time observation & forecasts at
@NWSVegas Death Valley Recreation Page.

Here: http://t.ly/Kt2A
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby phydeux » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:25 pm

Also easy to access the temps for the last few days at weather.gov. There's a small search box, just type in the zip code or location (Furnace Creek,CA) and you'll see a page pop up with the forecasts. Look on the right side of that page under 'More INofrmation: and choose the 3-day option to get hour by hour readings for the last 72 hours. Of interest:

127F at 4PM on Aug 16
127F at 3PM Aug 17
123F at 3PM Aug 18

Yep, its hot out there!
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby Dunning Kruger » Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:17 am

"Also, I've seen the rocks from a distance, and they are dark!"

I could imagine it'd be a furnace in there. This was a cool spring day and the rocks were radiating quite a bit.
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby zippetydude » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:51 am

Cool pics!

So, two questions...

What are the stipulations regarding extremely or overly localized temperature versus acceptable localized temperature in setting a record? For example, if you took the temperature in a small area where the rocks were black, there was no shade except for the small area observed, and the air temperature was several degrees above the surrounding area, I am guessing that would not count as official. At what point is the localization of the temperature extreme acceptable? Put simply, would the Martinez Rock Slide count (given its highly localized nature) even if it were a record?

Has anyone gone over there during a heat wave and measured to see how much hotter it is than the surrounding areas? The forecast for Friday and Saturday is 118. Let's pretend you go and find it's actually 123 at the rock slide. So...if it's normally say 5 degrees hotter there than any other local area, and one day we find it's 126 in Palm Desert, it might be fun to go over for a brief (!) time and measure the temperature to see if it's actually in excess of 130. I don't actually live out that way, but if you already live in Palm Desert, it could be interesting and, if you're really lucky, you might get featured in the Desert Sun! Just a thought...

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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby SoCalJim » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:07 am

phydeux, official temperatures ARE measured in the shade and “hutches” to shelter the weather instruments are commonly used. If official temperatures were measured in the sun, readings in the 120’s+ would be normal in California.
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby Perry » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:37 am

I nominate Zip to stand there with a thermometer. :) But seriously, even with an ice vest, silver umbrella, 3 gallons of frozen water, I don't think it's a good idea. But if someone left a shaded thermometer tomorrow morning and retrieved it on Tue morning...
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Re: Martinez Rock Slide v. Death Valley Temperatures?

Postby Ed » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:38 am

zippetydude wrote:So...if it's normally say 5 degrees hotter there than any other local area, and one day we find it's 126 in Palm Desert, it might be fun to go over for a brief (!) time and measure the temperature to see if it's actually in excess of 130.


Can't tell if Zip is being serious here...

I'm learning more about temperature measurement here than I ever wanted to know.
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