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Has a century night (daily minimum or nighttime low temperature ≥ 100 °F (37.(7) °C)) ever been reliably recorded outside of Asia and North America, particularly in Africa? : meteorology

3 min read

A century night*—that is, a daily minimum or nighttime low temperature greater than or equal to 100 °F (37.(7) °C)—is one of the most badass meteorological “achievements”, as it represents the total defeat of “it cools off at night”… or at least it would to Imperial system users. It has only been experienced in a few very select areas of Earth (notably in Asia and North America), that I had attempted to plot in this map. The map is potentially flawed, however, one reason being that it contains areas of one continent that I am not quite certain has actually recorded one; Africa. You see, I had colored in the Saharan extent (that of the “Triangle of Fire”) based on the chance observation of a 100 °F nighttime low at Reggane, Algeria in July 2018 from the website WorldWeatherOnline, but it appears from synop data decoded by Ogimet that only a value that rounds up to 100 °F was reached then. (And if you’re gonna harp on about how NoOnE rEaLlY cArEs AbOuT pReCiSiOn… I do, and you should, too.)

Now, on November 21, 2016, an article written by Cristopher C. Burt was submitted to Jeff Masters’ and Bob Hensons’ Weather Underground-hosted blog Category 6 titled World’s Hottest Nights/Highest Minimum Temperatures Yet Measured (archived link), about, well, that. In it, there was a chart courtesy of the meteorologist (and… meteophilatelist?) Maximiliano Hererra which indicated continental records for the highest minimum temperatures, which I will transcribe here:

Continental regionTemperatureLocationDate
Asia41.7 °C (107.06 °F)Khasab, Oman2011-06-27
North America107 °F (41.(6) °C)Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California2012-07-07
Africa37.5 °C (99.5 °F)Yélimané, Mali2016-05-01
Europe36.0 °C (96.8 °F)Palerme, Italy (specific station Palermo #2)2007-06-25
Oceania35.5 °C (95.9 °F)Arkaroola, South Australia; Wittenoom, Western Australia1982-01-24; 2003-01-21
South America31.7 °C (89.06 °F)Villa Dolores, Argentina1971-12-29
Antarctica8.8 °C (47.84 °F)Esperanza2016-05-27 (!)

Now, in the 5½ years since the article was written, I know that at least 4 (!) of these records have been broken, which I will list here:

Continental regionTemperatureLocationDate
Asia44.2 °C (111.56 °F) (trough low); 42.6 °C (108.68 °F) (daily minimum)Khasab, Oman (trough low); Qurayyat, Oman (daily minimum)2017-06-17 (trough low); 2018-06-26 (daily minimum)
North America107.7 °F (42.0(5) °C)Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley, California2021-07-11
Oceania36.6 °C (97.88 °F)Borrona Downs near Wanaaring, New South Wales2019-01-26
South America32.2 °C (89.96 °F)Pampa del Infierno, Argentina2022-01-17

That the stated African record is so low is somewhat odd. (The European record also seems anomalously high, which I talked about in this Quora conversation, but the others seem generally right.) I mean, according to the WorldClim 2.1 dataset, a region of Africa has the hottest warmest-month average minima on Earth—excluding a point that lands on the surface of Lake Assal, the extrapolated average July low for 26.346° N, 0.696° E is a whopping 32.0 °C (89.6 °F), 2.1 K (3.78 °R) hotter than the maximum for Death Valley… and that’s “only” about 60 km of relatively flat terrain away from the aforementioned Reggane, Algeria. And even if that African record was accurate, given that at least 4 out of the 7 continents broke their records since the creation of that initial table, it seems that Africa’s could have been, too, and if that was by any margin it’d result in a century night.

I tried to ask the libertarian cockatoo about the presence or absence of century nights in Africa in a tweet, but got no response, so… does anyone here have an answer?

*Coined following a similar colorful pattern to other meteorological terms like tropical nights (daily minimum or nighttime low temperature greater than or equal to 20 °C (68 °F)) and ice days (daily maximum or high temperature less than or equal to 0 °C (32 °F)), as well as a comparison of extreme temperatures with extreme ages.

/u/GrantExploit

2022-05-23 23:19:20

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