Some Pretty Crazy Temperature Swings In The Western US The Past Couple Of Days.




Extreme ranges in temperatures are fairly common in the Southwestern and Western US. This is due to a number of factors but dry air plays a key role especially in the Desert Regions. Such was the case Sunday. Death Valley (NWS Climate Co-Op Station elevation -19' below sea level) reported a high temperature of 122°F. This mornings low temp was 86°F. Interestingly enough Mt. Charleston (NWS Climate Co-OP Station elevation 7,402' above sea level) reported a low temperature of 30°F Sunday morning. Mt Charleston is 60 miles southeast of Death Valley (as the crow flies) and 25 miles west of downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. So that's a 92° temperature change in less than 75 miles, during the normal heating and cooling cycle of a 24-hour day.

 I was unable to find a listing of the Mt. Charleston daily climate co-op data on the Las Vegas, NV Daily Climate Page to verify if this low temperature was correct. When checking the Western Region Climate Data Base temperature records I found that the previous daily low temperature for June 21st is listed as 41°F in 2003. The long term (1949-2015) average daily low temperature for Mt. Charleston is 47° for June 21st. The map above shows that at 4 PM MDT Sunday they were in the mid 70's on the mountain. 


This mornings low temperature (listed below) is reported to be 32°F at Truckee, CA (NWS Climate Co-Op Station elevation 6,002 above sea level) some 225 miles northwest of Death Valley (as the crow flies). With a stout upper level ridge of high pressure overhead across the Western US, very dry air in place, clear skies, its no wonder we often see these large temperature swings. 

On average July is the hottest month of the year in Death Valley as far as daily high temperatures are concerned. Mid July to the end of July typically sees an average daily high temperature of 117°F with overnight lows in the upper 80's. 

Death Valley is not only the hottest place in the US but also one of the hottest in the world. Consider some of the famous facts about its weather below:

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 (5 cm), a fraction of what most deserts receive. Occasional thunderstorms, especially in late summer, can cause flash floods.

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 to 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. 

 
National High and Low Temperature 
(for the contiguous United States)
 
(Caution: Version displayed is not the latest version. - Issued 0600Z Jun 22, 2015)
 
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National High and Low Temperature (for the contiguous United States)
NWS Weather Prediction Center, College Park, MD
Issued 2 am EDT Monday, June 22, 2015

High Temperature for Sunday, June 21, 2015
(as received by 2 am EDT June 22)
122 at Death Valley, CA

Low Temperature for Sunday, June 21, 2015
(as received by 2 am EDT June 22)
30 at Charleston, NV

National High and Low Temperature 
(for the contiguous United States)
 
(Latest Product - Issued 1200Z Jun 22, 2015)
 
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National High and Low Temperature (for the contiguous United States)
NWS Weather Prediction Center, College Park, MD
Issued 8 am EDT Monday, June 22, 2015

High Temperature for Sunday, June 21, 2015
(as received by 8 am EDT June 22)
122 at Death Valley, CA

Low Temperature for Monday, June 22, 2015
(as received by 8 am EDT June 22)
32 at Truckee, CA
32 at West Yellowstone, MT

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