An automated measuring system in California’s Death Valley reported a temperature of 130F (54.4C) amid a blistering heatwave on Sunday, a reading that is one of the highest ever recorded globally if it is confirmed.
The temperature was recorded at 3.41pm at Furnace Creek near the park’s visitor centre, the National Weather Service said.
“If verified, this will be the hottest temperature officially verified since July of 1913, also at Death Valley. As this is an extreme temperature event, the recorded temperature will need to undergo a formal review,” the statement said.
The location holds the world record for highest temperature ever recorded — 134F (56.67C) — set on July 10 1913. That record, however, remains in dispute.
The World Meteorological Organisation said in a tweet that it also will work to verify Sunday’s measurement.
“This would be the hottest global temperature officially recorded since 1931,” it said.
That temperature was 131F (55C) recorded in Kebili, Tunisia, on July 7, 1931, and it also is disputed.
Death Valley, an austere landscape in the desert of south-eastern California, includes Badwater Basin, which at 282ft (85.9m) below sea level is the lowest point in North America.
“It’s an oppressive heat and it’s in your face,” Brandi Stewart, who works at Death Valley National Park, told the BBC. “When you walk outside it’s like being hit in the face with a bunch of hairdryers,” she said. “You feel the heat and it’s like walking into an oven and the heat is just all around you.”
Summer heat is so routinely extreme that tourists are warned to drink at least a gallon (4ltr) of water each day, carry additional water in their cars, stay close to their vehicles and watch themselves and others for dizziness, nausea and other symptoms of potentially deadly heat illness.