A heat wave may be pummeling the East Coast right now, but we should really be taking pity on Shanghai, which had its hottest day in at least 145 years.
Temperatures hit a record 105.62 degrees Fahrenheit today in the Southern Chinese city, which is the highest temperature recorded at the Xujiahui weather station since it was established in 1873. The previous high was a mere 105.44 degrees Fahrenheit, back in 2013.
That said, overall, 105 is not that impressive when it comes to temperature records since by some accounts, the hottest temperature ever recorded was 134 degrees Fahrenheit in California’s Death Valley in 1913. “By some accounts” is key here, because there’s plenty of dispute around the “hottest temperature” ranking among weather scientists, even though this particular ranking is supported by the World Meteorological Association. One 2016 analysis, for example, says that such a high temperature isn’t even possible, though this didn’t lead to the reading being invalidated. At one point, the hottest recorded temperature was 136 degrees Fahrenheit in Libya in 1922, but that was invalidated because the measuring instruments were old and the observer was fairly inexperienced.
Separately, there are special weather phenomena known as “heat bursts,” which usually happen at night. During heat bursts, the temperature climbs up rapidly, partly due to gusts of wind. Record heat burst temperatures are higher than the “official recorded” temperatures, and the record for heat bursts is a horrible-to-even-contemplate 188.1 degrees Fahrenheit in Iran in 1967. Compared to that, the people in Shanghai should count themselves lucky.