In the past two weeks, both Montana and California recorded the nation’s warmest and coldest daily temperature. Both states of course are large and have diverse topography. In the warm season the nation’s cold spot is almost always a city located in a high mountain valley. The city that is very commonly the coolest spot in the summer is Stanley, Idaho. A city surrounded by high mountains allowing the valley the city is located in to cool to the 30s on most mornings this time of year
Another cool summer spot is Truckee, California in the Sierra Mountains. Because Death Valley frequently records the warmest temperature in the nation, California, is the most likely state to record the warmest and coolest temperature observed in the lower 48 on the same day. Last week cloud cover kept many spots in the desert southwest a bit cooler than normal, allowing Montana to record both the high and low temperature on the same day. Not unheard of, yet certainly a change of pace from what often occurs this time of year.
Rivers flood. We know that all too well here in the Red River Valley. But there is another kind of river that has been causing flooding in California that you may not have heard about, an atmospheric river. Atmospheric rivers are narrow regions in the atmosphere, often one to three hundred miles in width that contain high concentrations of water vapor.
Like real rivers, they come in all shapes and sizes and often contain meanders. Using specialized satellite data (water vapor imagery) these rivers of concentrated water vapor are often easily detected. One type of atmospheric river is the so called “Pineapple Express”. This references times when tropical moisture near Hawaii is transported into the west coast, but these narrow flows of moisture can also come from non tropical sources and that has been the case with the heavy rain that has been impacting northern California in recent days.
Although these atmospheric rivers can cause flooding, more often they just bring beneficial moisture to the west coast.
Nearly 100 years ago, on July 10, 1913, a temperature reading of 134 degrees was recorded at the Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, California. At the time that was the highest temperatures recorded with proper measuring techniques anywhere on earth.
Nearly a decade later on September 13, 1911 a report of a temperature of 136 degrees was allegedly taken at El Azizia, Libya to establish a new world record that still holds to this day. That is until now. The World Meteorological Organization recently decided to drop that particular reading from the record book. There is always been some suspicion to that reading in Libya in 1922 and after much research it was determined that indeed that temperature was likely bogus.
Therefore, that temperature set nearly a century ago in Death Valley is now considered the warmest temperature recorded in the world. So if you have ever had the chance to go to Death Valley, you can now officially tell your friends that you visited the hottest place on earth.