It's not called Furnace Creek for nothing. This section of Southern California's Death Valley is notoriously hot, and it may now hold the record for the Earth's hottest temperature ever recorded. Per National Weather Service stats, the thermometer in Furnace Creek hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit around 3:45pm on Sunday, which is the highest temperature documented in the US in more than a century. CBS News reports the extra-elevated reading comes as the West Coast endures a stifling heat wave that's not set to ease up until later this week.
This is where things get figuratively sticky. The supposed highest temperature on Earth has surpassed that 130 degrees on at least two other occasions: in 1913, when Death Valley saw a 134-degree reading, and in 1931 in Tunisia, when the mercury soared to 131 degrees. However, both of those temperatures have credibility issues, meaning the highest temperature ever "reliably" recorded was 129.2 degrees in 2013, also in Death Valley. It looks like Sunday's reading may actually be the real deal. "Everything I've seen so far indicates that is a legitimate observation," the head of the World Meteorological Organization's weather and climate extremes team tells the Washington Post. (Read more Death Valley stories.)