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Death Valley Update

August 20, 2020

By Paul Homewood



More on that Death Valley “record” temperature.

The weather station (marked in blue) is situated at the Furnace Creek Visitor Centre:



The centre is a substantial building, surrounded by paved areas, roads and a carpark:

Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Death Valley NP

Photo of Furnace Creek Visitor Center - Death Valley, CA, United States. View of the front from parking lot

Photo of Furnace Creek Visitor Center - Death Valley, CA, United States


The centre presumably has ample air conditioning as well!


The weather station itself is situated at the back of the centre, about 5m away from the building, and on top of what appears to be either a concrete base or hard pack.

Photo of Furnace Creek Visitor Center - Death Valley, CA, United States. The weather station behind the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.


A closer look shows what appear to be several air conditioning vents on the roof of the centre.


On the day in question winds were from the south, so the weather station would have been artificially warmed by the car park to the south.


All of this is, of course, a far cry from Furnace Creek, when the record temperature was set in 1913:

Furnace Creek in 1871,_California#/media/File:FURNACE_CREEK,_EAST_SIDE_OF_DEATH_VALLEY,_CALIFORNIA_-_NARA_-_524163.jpg 


Self described climate historian, Chris Burt, is trying to get the inconvenient 1913 record expunged. (Perhaps he should get a job at the Met Office!) He might be better employed though campaigning against records at Heathrow and all the other unsuitable places now used for weather stations.

Certainly the location of the station at Furnace Creek does not look to me to be a suitable site for climate observations.



Even with these self evident problems, it does not appear that anything alarming is going on at Furnace Creek. This week’s temperature of 130F is only 1F higher than recorded in 1960, and 129F has also been reached several times since the Visitor Centre was opened in 1959.


  1. tim leeney permalink
    August 20, 2020 12:29 pm

    According to an NOAA map, 134F was recorded in California in 1913.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 20, 2020 1:42 pm

      We know, the point is, like many old hot records, modern climate scientists consider that they are impossible (or inconvenient) and must be expunged.

      That 1913 claim is already disputed and already discounted by the climate alarmists, the BBC article on the new ‘record’ went into some effort to disparage 1913.

  2. August 20, 2020 12:53 pm

    Tip : The Telegraph has picked up on article in a Scottish newspaper

  3. Broadlands permalink
    August 20, 2020 1:04 pm

    Why should a small increase in one high temperature measured at one station (even without the impact of surrounding influences) make any difference to the climate? Scaremongering perhaps?

    • Gary C permalink
      August 20, 2020 1:22 pm

      Scraping the barrel!

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 20, 2020 2:13 pm

        Straw. Clutching.

  4. Hugh Sharman permalink
    August 20, 2020 1:06 pm

    Bravo, Paul! What a dumb place to build a weather station! How can it be possible that only you are drawing our attention to such salient facts?

    • Gamecock permalink
      August 20, 2020 10:21 pm

      There is no cool place around Furnace Creek.

  5. Alec Tritton permalink
    August 20, 2020 1:07 pm

    Have been there and yes it does have a/c

  6. LeedsChris permalink
    August 20, 2020 1:12 pm

    I have a copy of the NASA report on a ‘century of weather at Death Valley’. It presents all the data and trends over the years and describes the situations used to monitor the weather there from 1912 to 2011. It specifically addresses the 1913 record and included the original exchanges of information with the observers in 1913. It still regards that 1913 record temperature as valid. The World Meteorological Organisation also reviewed the evidence again in 2012 and reconfirmed the 1913 record as valid. This is the same investigation that finally squashed the previous world temperature record at el Azizia inLibya in 1922, where the thermometer was substandard and the observation was likely in error. Seems to me that if someone is denying the Death Valley world temperature record of 1913 they are doing so simply out of malice and because it is inconvenient to the political narrative. I can email you the NASA report if you like.

    • tim leeney permalink
      August 20, 2020 4:53 pm

      Thankyou LeedsChris, I have now found this report, and downloaded it for reference.

  7. August 20, 2020 1:33 pm

    “The centre is a substantial building, with paved areas, roads and a carpark, and ample air conditioning. The weather station is 5m from the building, and on top of a concrete base. There are air conditioning vents on the roof. On the day in question winds were from the south, so the weather station would have been artificially warmed by the car park. All of this is a far cry from Furnace Creek, when the record temperature was set in 1913”

    Excellent research and elegant logic wasted fighting a claim that has no AGW interpretation even with perfect measurement.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 20, 2020 1:46 pm

      As long as the media in the UK/USA/Australia keep using these instances as global warming propaganda reinforcement and ‘proof’ of global heating, and fail to prominently emphasize that they are not climatologically significant, it is essential effort, not wasted.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 20, 2020 2:12 pm

        No surprise that those 3 countries were put in the lead of creating the proof of global warming for the IPCC.

    • Steve permalink
      August 20, 2020 2:13 pm

      Air-conditioning and reverse cool the surrounding air in winter and warm it in summer. The flat roof, which will be insulated, would reach an even higher temperature than the tarmac in the car park.

    • August 20, 2020 2:56 pm

      I withdraw my comment in view of Mr Grim’s response to it.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        August 20, 2020 3:22 pm

        You don’t have to withdraw it – it is in essence valid, I’m just explaining that we have different perspectives, experience different realities, and hence the reason for looking more closely at these claims.

      • August 21, 2020 6:04 am

        Thank you.

  8. Pancho Plail permalink
    August 20, 2020 2:03 pm

    A close look at Google Earth appears to show the weather station about 20m due west of the large array of solar panels at the side of the staff car park and just 20m due north of what looks like a massive heat exchanger with a fan on top (of at least 1m diameter). If the wind was from the south the air from the heat exchanger would have been blown directly over the recording instruments.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    August 20, 2020 2:14 pm

    Deja vu. I think Anthony Watts went over this the last time the warmist liars tried claim a new record and came to the same conclusion that the site was now unreliable.

    • August 23, 2020 5:44 pm

      The whole thing about marginal ‘records’ (or not) at single sites is a bit pathetic. What would really be evidence would be widespread upward trends all over the place, sustained over a few decades.

      A fraction of a degree on one day in a hundred years is obviously meaningless in climate terms.

  10. David permalink
    August 20, 2020 2:40 pm

    Does look like a hump in temp readings during the last 35 years in that graph. Could of course be cyclical but it’s not clear.

  11. 2hmp permalink
    August 20, 2020 3:17 pm

    What is it with our Government that thy cannot see they are being fooled by all the duff data being served up? Are they really that foolish ? Silly question.

    • Bertie permalink
      August 20, 2020 4:33 pm

      Well following an agenda to convert the country into a police state. They’re well on the wat with the Covid and inexplicable laws about a non-existent threat to the climate. In both cases the ‘great unwashed’ seem to have swallowed the mantra wholeheartedly.
      There is no threat from either but an alarming proportion of the (ill-educated) populace now seem to swallow all the nonsense the – unfit for purpose – BBC peddles.
      One despairs.

      • Paul H permalink
        August 20, 2020 8:09 pm

        The ‘ill educated’ portion of society don’t as such believe the scams as much as just go along with them. It’s the pseudo intellectual middle ‘educated’ classes, fairly articulate, that drive these agendas. As we move further from our Christian beliefs, we don’t believe in nothing, we believe in anything – MMGW, Green Issues, Anti Fracking – all take on a quasi religious dimension, so no actual proof needed. The human soul needs to believe, there’s a yearning to worship, and this applies equally to the atheist, who vehemently support their position messianically.

      • August 21, 2020 12:06 am

        Police State? Have you been following the lib riots lately? More like an anarchist hellhole.

  12. August 20, 2020 3:21 pm

    I was there a couple of years ago and remember thinking that the meteorological instruments were not well sited given all the stuff around it. Sad thing is that is not like there weren’t plenty of better places close by.

  13. George Reagan permalink
    August 20, 2020 4:47 pm

    Yeah, a lot of thought went into where to place the modern day metrological data station
    (Sarcasim). For one, it needs to be in a shaded area, not in direct sunlight and maybe 50 feet from any concrete buildings or other heat islands. I don’t know the printed directive used (needed) to place a station, but those involved need to use a little common sence. Logic prevailes, here. Regards, retired mechanical engineer and physicist.

    • Juan Slayton permalink
      August 24, 2020 12:54 pm

      Shade at Furnace Creek? Well, we’ve heard of it….

  14. August 20, 2020 6:25 pm

    I also visited Death Valley and we walked around the visitor’s centre, which IS air conditioned and has a mass of concrete surrounding it.

    What of course is remarkable is that it has taken 61 years for this new ‘temperature record’ to be attained given the extreme heat island effect as Paul so rightly says, However, this record should have been broken several times with the succession of highs getting more and more frequent if the Earth’s climate is warming. This not being the case provides proof that AGW only exists in the minds of those who want to manipulate humanity.

    Another disturbing turn of events, which I will predict will become more commonplace, is describing past high temperatures as “unreliable”. ‘Unhelpful’ is a more accurate description when reality is taken into account!

    • Duker permalink
      August 21, 2020 3:56 am

      In any case 1 temperature reading doesnt constitute ‘climate’, but the media just love click bait stories about extremes – ‘so it must be true’

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 20, 2020 10:17 pm

    I note that Furnace Creek is just up the road from Zabriskie Point, the scene of some of the eponymous cult film that now seems to be relevant again. Perhaps they wanted to take a shot at the record but missed.

  16. August 21, 2020 1:50 am

    The Guardian’s reputation for deplorable journalism is well known to those of intelligence.

  17. Richard Baja Bell permalink
    August 21, 2020 2:23 pm

    Brit living in California …….. Nothing to see here , it is summer , it is a desert , all normal …… thanks for all the Fish !!!

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