In a year that has seen records surpassed seemingly every day, Del Rio earned a dubious distinction on Monday. According to the Weather Prediction Center, it was the hottest place in the entire country. With a high temperature of 105°, it beat out places like Death Valley, California (103°) and Phoenix, Arizona (102°).
HOW IS RECORD DETERMINED?
While not every city has a reliable measurement, multiple reporting sites are used to determine the nation’s high and low temperatures. According to the Weather Prediction Center “sites used are from data networks or providers deemed reliable with statistically rigorous data quality assurance, including but not limited to sensor sensitivity, placement and timeliness. This may include other government-run agencies with weather observation networks within the Lower 48 states and may incorporate some local, state-run or those considered reliable through peer-reviewed/refereed journal articles.” In other words — it’s got to be reliable, but there’s A LOT of reporting sites to choose from.
HAS DEL RIO BEEN THE HOTTEST PLACE BEFORE?
Yes, it’s not the first time Del Rio has gotten the gold medal. A quick check of the archives shows Del Rio either was or tied for the hottest spot in the contiguous United States nine times since 2019. Impressive. And it’s not the only place in South Texas to get the title. Cotulla has reached the top of the list 19 times since 2019, including seven times this year! Eagle Pass, Spofford, and Carrizo Springs can, on occasion, find themselves at the top, too.
WHY IS IT HOTTER IN DEL RIO?
As you might have guessed, it boils down to geography. Its southern latitude helps, while its position in a river valley and on the east side of a mountain range adds to the extreme heat. This is also true for other towns along the Rio Grande, all the way down into the Valley.
WHICH LOCATION IN THE US IS MOST COMMONLY THE HOTTEST PLACE?
That award goes to Death Valley. Not only does it hold the record for the hottest reading in the world, it’s often the hottest place in the country during the summer. Several times each month this summer, it held the title of hottest place in the country. Coming in a close second is Rio Grande Village in the Big Bend of Texas, which also topped the list many times this summer.
Del Rio’s 105° on Monday added to a record that had already shattered this summer: the number of days at 105° or above. Monday marked the 55th day this year that happened. To put it into perspective, 2020 is in second place with 31 days.