Weather and Climate
Death Valley is famous as the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America. The world record highest air temperature of 134°F (57°C) was recorded at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913. Summer temperatures often top 120°F (49°C) in the shade with overnight lows dipping into the 90s°F (mid 30s°C.) Average rainfall is less than 2 inches (5cm), a fraction of what most deserts recieve. Occasional thunderstorms, especially in late summer, can cause flashfloods.
In contrast to the extremes of summertime, winter and spring are very pleasant. Winter daytime temperatures are mild in the low elevations, with cool nights that only occasionally reach freezing. Higher elevations are cooler than the low valley. Temperatures drop 3 to 5°F (2-3°C) with every thousand vertical feet (approx. 300m). Sunny skies are the norm in Death Valley, but winter storms and summer monsoons can bring cloud cover and rain. Wind is common in the desert, especially in the spring. Dust storms can suddenly blow up with approaching cold fronts.
Why is Death Valley's weather so extreme?
Why so Dry?
Why so Hot?
How extreme is Death Valley's climate?
Highest ground temperatures
Dry as a bone
Weather data was compiled from park and National Weather Service record summaries for the years 1911 through 2007 for Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California.
Did You Know?
Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park was named by Dr. Samuel George in 1861. After climbing the 11,049 foot peak, Dr. George said that he could see so far that it reminded him of looking through a telescope.