Amid a heatwave on the west coast, Death Valley National Park, California, is verifying with the National Weather Service what may be the highest ever recorded temperature on earth at 130F (54.4C).
Sunday’s reading was recorded in Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Other previous high readings have been disputed as not credible. Before this, the highest temperature reliably recorded on Earth was 129.2F (54C) – also in Death Valley in 2013.
The current heatwave stretches from Arizona up to Washington state, and is expected to hit its peak on Monday and Tuesday before dropping later in the week. Sweltering heat is expected however for another 10 days.
California’s Independent System Operator (CISO), which manages the state’s power, has declared a Stage 3 Emergency, meaning “when demand [for electricity] begins to outpace supply”. Officials are using scheduled rolling blackouts to manage the strained power grid.
Immediate effects of heat waves on the body are heat cramps, dehydration, and heat strokes. Heat can also exacerbate chronic conditions like respiratory diseases, heart conditions, and kidney disorders.
As well as straining power grids and causing blackouts, extreme heat can ground planes, melt roads, and cause the inside of cars to overheat to dangerous levels.
Heatwaves can also have a severe impact on agriculture – either by causing vegetables to wilt and die, or by encouraging the spread of plant diseases.