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Pants on fire
September 13, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Ninety years ago today, the all-time weather temperature record (58° C, 136.4° F) was recorded at Al Azizia, Libya. Today, that record has been officially thrown out following research by extreme weather specialist, Christopher Burt. The video of how it all un-happened.

New hot spot: 56.7°C (134°F) 10 July 1913, Greenland Ranch (Death Valley) CA.
posted by dances_with_sneetches (17 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
As Burt notes here, the highest temperature measured with modern instruments and methods is 129° at various several dates and places in Death Valley.
posted by gubo at 11:54 AM on September 13, 2012


Summary of the work: the record temperature was days after a new person started work at the weather station (based on the handwriting in the log book), was out of line with measurements from other area weather stations, and finally, Burt looked at the type of thermometer and showed how a plausible misreading would produce the extraordinary measurements."
posted by zippy at 12:02 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had never before heard of a heat burst. Now we have a new reason to fear thunderstorms - in addition to lighting strikes, tornadoes, microbursts and hail, we should also be wary of being roasted alive while our house has its roof ripped off. (One purportedly hit 158º in Lisbon in 1949, and 140º in Texas in 1960.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:12 PM on September 13, 2012


That was unexpectedly completely fascinating.
posted by enn at 1:38 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Very interesting! It would have been even better if Weather Underground's documentary video had also included an interview with Khalid Ibrahim El Fadli (admittedly probably difficult to arrange for a weather service that lacks the resources of an international news agency).
posted by RichardP at 1:56 PM on September 13, 2012


Mess with our country, we take back your heat records.
posted by resurrexit at 2:05 PM on September 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Also, I've always loved that the site is called Weather Underground--is there some historical connection there or was that just a randomly chosen name?
posted by resurrexit at 2:06 PM on September 13, 2012


is there some historical connection there or was that just a randomly chosen name?

Wikipedia: "Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was founded in 1995 as an offshoot of the University of Michigan's Internet weather database. The name is a reference to the 1960s militant radical student group the Weather Underground, which also originated at the University of Michigan."
posted by zippy at 2:12 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


ressurexit, Weather Underground, Inc. (the weather service) and the radical student organization were both founded at the University of Michigan, many years apart. The weather service has a bit about the history of their name on their site. The Wikipedia article also talks about the origin of their name.
posted by RichardP at 2:12 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That temperature thing was the first thing I ever knew about Libya as a little kid reading the Guinness Book of World's Records. Thanks for this.
posted by jessamyn at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2012


I had some dictionary/almanac as a kid (I think it was the "Macmillan Dictionary for Children") that I remember mentioning about this, alongside an illustration of some hapless Libyan melting in the heat. Probably the first time I ever heard about Libya, too. Childhood factoid usurped!
posted by neckro23 at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a nerd, but I'm still kind of amazed that I just read a suspenseful and exciting story about correcting an old thermometer reading. The world is awesome, you know?

Thanks so much!
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:03 PM on September 13, 2012


Christopher C. Burt is just awesome. I linked to a couple of his posts in my heat-wave post this summer. He makes the weather absolutely fascinating.
posted by limeonaire at 5:20 PM on September 13, 2012


I think it's pretty great that they got Alan Alda to dub in the voice of Christopher Burt. Adds a real sense of star quality!
posted by scrowdid at 5:23 PM on September 13, 2012


I think it's pretty great that they got Alan Alda to dub in the voice of Christopher Burt. Adds a real sense of star quality!

Holy shit, if it's in another tab you really can't tell the difference!
posted by disillusioned at 5:42 PM on September 13, 2012


Summary of the work: the record temperature was days after a new person started work at the weather station (based on the handwriting in the log book), was out of line with measurements from other area weather stations, and finally, Burt looked at the type of thermometer and showed how a plausible misreading would produce the extraordinary measurements."
Not just that. Most seriously, the temperature was measured in a paved courtyard over a black, asphalt-like material.
posted by unliteral at 6:01 PM on September 13, 2012


Few weather record analysis stories share the frantic car chase under machine gun fire that this one has. Or do they?!?!
posted by bystander at 12:55 AM on September 14, 2012


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