DID YOU KNOW THAT DEATH VALLEY IS THE HOT LOCATION IN NORTH AMERICA?
Regardless, Death Valley is the hottest location in North America, and one of the hottest places on Earth. Consider what is an "average" year there:
- Triple-digit heat from mid-May through early October
- Highs in the 110s from mid-June through early September
- Morning lows in the upper 80s or low 90s from mid-July through mid-August
The summer of 1996 featured daytime highs over 120 degrees for forty days. Five years later, the valley sizzled in a stretch of 154 consecutive days of triple-digit heat, a roughly five-month stretch!
There have even been morning "lows" in triple-digits, most recently on July 18, 2010. Imagine waking up to a morning low of 102 degrees.
Those are just air temperatures. How hot can ground temperatures get? Try an incredible 201 degrees, measured at Furnace Creek on July 15, 1972. Yep...11 degrees from the boiling point of water! The maximum air temperature measured that day was 128 degrees.
Why is this valley so hot?
- Elevation: Furnace Creek, home of the Death Valley Nat'l Park Visitor's Center, is roughly 190 feet below sea-level. Since air warms as it moves down, that extra elevation plunge adds extra heat.
- It's a Desert: Only 2.26" of precipitation falls each year in the valley. The average evaporation rate: 150" a year. In some years (1953, 1929), no rain or snow fell. Most Pacific storm systems have the lion's share of their moisture taken away by four mountain ranges to the west of Death Valley. Their wettest month, February, averages only 0.49" of precipitation.
(FORECAST: Death Valley)
Flood-damaged vehicles are buried near the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley, Calif. on Aug. 15, 2004.
Amazingly, despite this desert environment, there have been destructive floods.
On August 15, 2004, torrential rain, by valley standards, sent walls of floodwater up to 8-10 feet deep through parts of Death Valley National Park in the late evening hours.
Miles of roads were washed out and closed for months. Cars were swept away and buried. Two people were killed near Zabriskie Point. The park was closed for nine days. Other destructive floods occurred in 1984 and 1976, among other years.
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