That’s Why They Call It Death Valley…

Commentary by Kip Hansen  —  7 August 2023

The month of July 2023 was a hot one – really hot and really hot in many places.  Not even Roy Spencer knows why – it just was.  Is this the start of a new step-change upwards in global temperature (if such a thing exists…)?  We just don’t know and we just don’t know yet.  So, we’ll leave the weather report and the abject-glee of climate alarmists for another time.

But July is the peak of the U.S. vacation season, during which many Americans take to the highways and byways and visit the almost unending list of beautiful and sometimes astonishing National and State Parks.  Some of the most striking (and bizarre) scenery is to be found in the desert lands of the U.S. Southwest.

We can see the same area by expected temperatures in July:

The Pink and Buff areas are hot – very hot – desert:

I have personal experience with all of these deserts. Learned to drive in Death Valley (altitude 282 feet (86 m) below sea level), which I have also seen – almost –  from the peak of Mount Whitney (altitude 14,505 feet (4,421 m)).  Camped and hiked in the worst of them as a teen.  They can be very hot in the day and the high deserts can then be freezing at night. 

So, that is the stage setting for our story today:  “A Deadly Summer for Hikers in the Southwest” – and splattered all over the other mass media outlets.  “At least seven heat-related deaths are suspected in state and national parks during a record-breaking heat wave.”

Clever readers will see the oddity immediately – both “heat-related” and “suspected”.  There were seven deaths – and in each of them, because it was just stupidly hot hot hot, the suspected cause was “the heat”.  And, honestly, that’s fair enough. 

The lede instance is heartbreaking, because it could have been prevented by the journalists who first reported it – even photographed it!

The image is no doubt copyrighted “Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images”, but here is the link to view it.  The caption in the Times is: ”Steve Curry, 71, found the only shade he could at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley on July 18, hours before he died.”

And the story behind the image:  “An experienced hiker, Mr. Curry had been resting at an overlook called Zabriskie Point in the shadow of a metal sign, the only sliver of shade he could find. A reporter and a photographer from The Los Angeles Times offered him a ride, which he declined. “Why do I do it?” he said, in response to their questions about hiking in the heat. “Why not?”” (source: NY Times)  There is more at the L.A. Times, including “It had taken him about two hours to reach Zabriskie Point — and the return hike would take longer — but he said he was mostly worried that he wasn’t keeping pace with younger people he had seen out walking.” “The thermometer at the nearby Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center registered 121 degrees around the time of his death, but the actual temperature inside the canyon was likely much higher because of the radiant heat from the sun, officials said.” 

The radian heat in these desert canyons reflects off the sides. Then, much like the Urban Heat Islands  in an urban setting with brick buildings, the heat builds inside the canyon, creating a “solar oven” effect.

Mr. Curry should not have been out there in that heat, certainly not at his age (or mine) or that time of day.  The reporter and photographer from The L.A. Times did the right thing to offer him a lift but then, when Mr. Curry turned them down, they failed to alert the Park Rangers of this elderly gentleman who, from his appearance in the photograph and responses to their questions (indicating he was somewhat confused about his situation), was already suffering heat stroke.  Another life lost through vanity (Mr. Curry)  and failure of care (journalist and photographer).

“But, it must be climate change, look how hot it was!”  My dear readers, that’s why they named it Death Valley.    The Monthly Report from the U.S. National Weather Service for the Death Valley station shows that every day during July this year, the average daily temperature (Daily Maximum + Daily Minimum divided by 2) was in excess of 100 °F (37.7 °C).  That’s the average!    The daily highs were above 110 °F (43 °C) every single day, above 120 °F (49 °F) twenty of the days. 

Is this unusual?  Is this “extreme”? No, the U.S. National Park Service reports on the general the Weather in Death Valley “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. [ emphasis mine – kh ] 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.”  All of those conditions, except the record high temperature of 1913, occurred this summer in Death Valley, just as the National Park Service advised visitors to expect.  There was not any extreme weather, it was usual weather for Death Valley.

In Death Valley, people can easily enter the park without encountering an employee, and cellphone service is spotty. Rangers have adopted an approach that focuses less on controlling visitors and more on encouraging preparation and caution, typically through online resources and road signs.” (same NY Times piece)

The message is repeated on the white sticker in 8 languages.  (A friendly vandal has augmented the sign with a death’s head sticker over the “O”.)

No one should be dying in Death Valley and it is a shame that it happens.  But, people will be people and do stupid things. 

[Personal Plea:  When you see others endangering their lives through this kind of ill-advised behavior, please try your best to dissuade them and if necessary, report the situation to the authorities. You might just save their lives.]

There have been, according to the NY Times, seven deaths in the desert National/State parks this year that are suspected to have been caused by the heat.  Some will turn out to be heart attacks with heat as a contributing cause, some will turn out to be drug related reactions/overdoses, some will turn out to be real deaths from excess heat (heat stroke).  Read the NY Times article for details, but they all seem to be similar:  hikers out in the middle of the day when it was far too hot to be hiking, maybe hiking too far away from shelter without an understanding that it will be even hotter on the return trip.  (I have a known many young people that suffer from this disability to estimate total distances.)

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion are no joke – I have suffered both in my crazy young years and in my advanced years – but through swift action of friends and family, I survived. You should have learned to distinguish between these two conditions in Boy/Girl Scouts or in professionally required First Aid training.  “People with heat stroke tend to exhibit more behavioral changes than those with heat exhaustion. Heat stroke can cause people to become irrational, belligerent, or confused, while heat exhaustion tends to manifest itself more through physical symptoms like heavy sweating and cramps.”  [source] First aid instruction here: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

The Times says:  “Anyone who’s hot and is confused, or has an altered level of consciousness — that’s heatstroke, and that’s a medical emergency,” Dr. Lipman said. “And they need to be cooled down as quickly as possible.”  And medical emergency means CALL 911.

The main difference is that true heat stroke is life threatening and demands medical attention as soon as possible – in the U.S. dial 911. (999 for the UK, 112 for most of Europe, 000 for Australia).  In both cases, get the patient to shade, cool them off with cool water (spray with a hose, wipe with wet cloths, put them in a tub of cool water) and especially if the patient is unresponsive or irrationally responsive CALL 911.

You should have the idea by now.

Finally, kudos to the NY Times journalist, Jacey Fortin, for including this:

“Park data shows that despite the apparent spike in fatalities this year, heat-related deaths remain relatively rare. They are vastly outnumbered by fatal car crashes, falls and drownings. Data from 2014 to 2016 shows that, on average, about 330 people died in national parks each year, or roughly six people every week, out of more than 300 million annual visitors.”  These seven suspected heat-related deaths represent a truly very small number of deaths/thousand visitors and a very small percentage of deaths in National and State parks.

Of course, there is no data provided on the number of visitors that die from exposure to cold in the winter months.

July is the hottest of months climatically.  That is perfectly normal.  This past July was a little hotter in a lot of places, which accounts for the UAH Lower Trop stat. 

But what causes Heat Waves?

“Heat waves begin when high pressure in the atmosphere moves in and pushes warm air toward the ground. That air warms up further as it is compressed, and we begin to feel a lot hotter.  ….  The high-pressure system pressing down on the ground expands vertically, forcing other weather systems to change course. It even minimizes wind and cloud cover, making the air more stifling. This is also why a heat wave parks itself over an area for several days or longer.” [ source NY Times ]

Then there is the “heat dome”:

A heat dome occurs when a persistent region of high-pressure traps heat over a particular area, and it can linger for days to weeks. Heat domes are typically linked to the behavior of the jet stream, which is a band of fast-moving winds high in the atmosphere that move in meandering wavelike patterns.” [source:  NOAA]

So, what are all the Climate Alarmists gibbering about?  Two things really, as Roy Spencer [repeating link] points out, it was a hot July, a little bit hotter, but that degree or so hotter occurred in a lot of places all once and for some locations under persistent heat domes,  weeks on end.  That drove up the UAH monthly “Version 6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly” to heights only seen three times before (since 1979, the start of the time series).  That said, it is just a single data point in the monthly averages data set.  Will that be the start of a new trend, a new step-change level?  Who knows?

The oddity of it is interesting – weather experts don’t expect to see so many large heat domes in so many areas simultaneously and for such long periods – and this needs some serious investigation and research  – not the trumpeting of alarm seen so far from consensus climate scientists in the media.

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

Two of my boys, who are exceptional outdoors men as at-ease in the woods of the vast American Northeast forests as they are in their living rooms, carefully look in to every wilderness death reported in our local area.  They have strong opinions about the failures of people to understand the need to be prepared, to know what they are about and to take even rudimentary precautions in the wild.  When some hiker from the city falls to their death off one of the many local cliffs, a surprisingly common occurrence, they will simply say “flip flops” – based on the long-term record showing that >90 percent of those deaths caused by the “dead hiker” wearing that type of inappropriate footwear (and standing on the cliff edge taking a selfie).  The same class of foolish errors lead to heat related deaths in the deserts. 

As for heat related illnesses, salt depletion or hyponatremia – from excessive or long-term sweating, can lead to gran mal seizures.  In the merchants,  I watched a big (really big) strong deckhand flop about like a fish out of water in such a seizure.  It took six other men to hold him down and keep him from hurting himself on all the deck gear.  The Captain subsequently placed a gallon jar of salt tablets on the Quartermasters desk with orders for all those passing the QM to take a salt tablet each time. 

Please remember, it is now August, the second hottest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  You may be comfortable in your cool home or office, but when you go outside, you need to be aware of the temperature and humidity so that you don’t cause yourself harm. 

THE HEAT WILL NOT HURT YOU – but you may hurt yourself.  Many of us willingly and intentionally go into a sauna for our health – a sauna  where the temperature exceeds anything naturally found outside, typically 150-175 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some recommend 70-90 °C (which is 158-194°F) [source: ]

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

5 26 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
August 7, 2023 2:27 pm


Or pickle jar liquid.

If you can’t stay in the shade or bring your own.

Tom Halla
August 7, 2023 2:46 pm

I used to work in the cookroom of a cannery, which was regularly those temperatures. Staying hydrated is the main rule, as well as getting out long enough to cool down.

Caleb Shaw
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 7, 2023 4:45 pm

I worked at a place that made nails, of all sorts, and one process involved heat. The room was 105 degrees in July (40.5 Celsius) and I was hungry for overtime. I drank amazing amounts of water, soda-pop and coffee and never needed to pee, nor did I notice much sweat, but I know I sweated, because after a twelve-hour-shift I stank to high heavens.

You can get away with such feats of endurance when young, but now that I’m not so young I notice I don’t sweat like I used to. The good side is I don’t stink (or not so badly).

I’m sorry the old fellow in Death Valley didn’t recognize he perhaps was getting a bit old for the stress of such hikes, but glad that, if he had to go, he went doing what he loved “with his boots on”, and not in some hospital bed stuck full of tubes.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Caleb Shaw
August 7, 2023 5:08 pm

My rule was that if I did not need to pee at least once an hour, I was in danger of getting dehydrated.

Robert B
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 7, 2023 10:51 pm

I worked in a dried sultana packing shed one summer. They hadn’t finished packing look at years crop so my job was to lift 16 kg (35 lbs) of sultanas from the hopper and dump them in large storage boxes. Two of us lifting and third stacking the boxes.

Our second day hit 46.9°C . My arms cramped after 6 hours and we walked off.

Amazing what you can do if you stay hydrated and are young, but even then, it can end in tears.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 8, 2023 3:50 am

I used to think nothing of putting hay in the top of a barn in July and August. Don’t know what the temp was but the tin roofs on some of them got too hot to touch with bare fingers. But we always got a short reprieve as the next hay wagon was pulled up to the elevator.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 8, 2023 5:54 am

Ya, I remember those days of stacking hay by hand … I didn’t think much of it either.

old cocky
Reply to  hildekl
August 8, 2023 3:11 pm

Too much labour involved. It’s all big bales and hay forks on the front end loader now.

Rud Istvan
August 7, 2023 2:52 pm

Kip, good post.
Old Eagle Scout here, so three WUWT reader tips:

  1. Doing stupid things in the wilderness usually do not end well. Not just heat, also cold, bad weather, approaching bears (my wife’s stepfather stupidly tried to get a picture of one near our Canadian summer cabin, fortunately an older cub without sow), not properly caching foods up and away from tent, lots of common sense stuff not done by stupid people without common sense. Example: our AWD small SUV is permanently equipped with a decent handsaw and a lightweight logging chain because we backcountry national forest gravel roads in north Georgia to trout fish, and you never know when a tree blocks the mostly untraveled ‘road’. We have rescued several ordinary car tourists who should never have been on those mountainous Chatahoochie national forest ‘roads’ in the first place.
  2. Best heat hydration is not water, but Gatorade. It was formulated to let U. Florida ‘Gator’ football players survive practice in August—replenishes all electrolytes (potassium and sodium) lost to sweat. Better than salt tablets.
  3. Heed Kip’s difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke has a potentially very bad outcome.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 7, 2023 5:20 pm

Both my son and I are Eagle Scouts. The Scout motto was “Be Prepared.” And we both, in our respective times, did the Philmont Scout Reservation expedition in New Mexico. We always were prepared for the unexpected to occur. I’m not sure if the new age Woke Scouting organization is still like that or not.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  spren
August 8, 2023 5:12 pm

Did Philmont.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 7, 2023 9:46 pm

I know your referring to the bottled Gatorade but there needs to be a word of warning about the powdered stuff you mix yourself. People tend to abuse it by not following the instructions so they get a stronger flavor. By doing so they of course have a higher concentration of electrolytes and that can cause problems.

So FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS if your making Gatorade in bulk using the powder!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 8, 2023 7:21 am

Best heat hydration is not water, but Gatorade. It was formulated to let U. Florida ‘Gator’ football players survive practice in August—replenishes all electrolytes (potassium and sodium) lost to sweat. Better than salt tablets.

I saw this story yesterday.
She felt dehydrated so drank 4 16oz bottles of water in 20 minutes.
She died because ratio of the electrolytes in her system to water became diluted causing her cells to absorb water and swell.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 8, 2023 3:12 pm

Or just eating some food. You know, the stuff with all them molecules in it.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 8, 2023 3:14 pm

I was wondering if no one realized what was wrong with her?
It does not take long to get some electrolytes into a person.
She collapsed, medics called, she wound up in a hospital, and still died.
We have the facts now, but when was it determined what killed her?
I bet no one knew it at the time.
Probable pieced it together afterwards.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 8, 2023 3:50 pm

Years ago I had a nutrition book (Martindales?) that listed the effects of too much or to little of certain nutrients or chemicals.
It listed Sodium and how much was needed per liter of water for the body to function properly. Unfortunately, it went bye-bye during one of my wife’s “decluttering” purges. (I’m a serial clutterer. She won’t toss something until I say “yes”. She tends to keep asking me until I say “yes”. But she’s worth it. I’d rather have her than whatever the “it” was.)

Back to the story, If she’d spaced out the water intake over a longer time, she might have been fine. (or replaced one or two of the water bottles with something like Gatorade or even beer.)
Hmm … The story didn’t mention what kind of water she drank. If it was distilled or straight RO (meaning no added minerals), that would have accelerated the ill effects.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 8, 2023 10:07 am

Also a scout though never made Eagle. Grew up in the town next to New Brunswick, NJ where Boy Scout National Headquarters was. Our Scoutmaster worked in the Audio/Visual department there, and consequently, we were often in Scouting media, advertisements, etc.
The 1967 edition of the Boy Scout Fieldbook shows two scouts on the cover. They’re both me, pictures taken in the wooded area behind Headquarters and superimposed into the majestic background.

We did a lot of camping, and had camped in 43 states and Canada (Expo 67) by the time I was 16. Hiked to bottom of the Grand Canyon in 67 shortly after attending the World Jamboree in Idaho, where we had backstage jobs running wires and setting up microphones and such.

Great experience, especially learning that Gaia and Mother Nature are NOT your friend, and will eat you up and spit you out in a heartbeat. Be prepared is not just a motto, but a necessity. Dinty Moore beef stew also became a necessity… open a can, set it among the flames, fish it out and enjoy… My wife cannot understand how I love it so much.

old cocky
Reply to  BobM
August 8, 2023 3:30 pm

earning that Gaia and Mother Nature are NOT your friend, and will eat you up and spit you out in a heartbeat. Be prepared is not just a motto, but a necessity.

Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts because the British troops were so hopeless in an unfamiliar environment during the Boer War. He wanted recruits who could live off the land and scout the territory for any future conflicts in “the colonies”.

As you say, that’s not necessarily idyllic.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
August 8, 2023 12:42 pm

Old Eagle here as well. Earned mine in the early 80’s in Tucson so I’ve had my share of heat related experiences, lol.

I swear gatorade has changed since I was kid because it tastes sweeter now, almost like soda. When it was mixed right it tasted pretty nasty UNTIL you got thirsty, then it was nectar of the gods. That was one of the ways we knew it was time to drink it.

Our general hydration rule was to start out with two quarts of water accessible. When you’ve finished your first quart, refill and mix gatorade (usually at planned stops where there might have been a spring or tank). Then drink from both equally. Maybe a little heavier on the water side actually because most of the food you carry while hiking is dried and has huge amounts of salt in it (principally jerky, hard cheeses, salted nuts) but the dehydrated meals that were coming out then also have incredible amounts of sodium.

Which leads to the point I wanted to make…..when it’s hot it’s easy to either forget or just plain not eat. Everyone thinks about hydration to some point, but it’s easy to go several hours without eating just chalking up the fatigue and weakness to heat stress. The low blood sugar effects your decision making capabilities as well as your attitude and you can find yourself in one of those ‘altered mental states’ pretty easily.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Gino
August 8, 2023 3:18 pm

I worked and played sports outside in Florida almost every day of my life for the past 40 years. Never drank that stuff.
Tea, water, eat fruit…apples, oranges, pickles…crackers, nuts, potato chips…
Watermelon is great, it will cool you off for a solid hour.
Food has everything we need in it.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gino
August 8, 2023 4:09 pm

I was a teen when it first came out and one summer I worked a very physical job outdoors. At lunch I’d get a quart (maybe a pint?) of Gatorade. It almost seemed like it evaporated in my mouth as I drank it. Maybe they have added more sugars to it since then?

August 7, 2023 3:15 pm

20 mule teams…hauling the borax…for the people….thirsty mules…hot boiling temps….just avoid wilderness and you will not have a problem.

Reply to  antigtiff
August 7, 2023 10:19 pm

Been to the old abandoned borax mines. Found it interesting. Am old enough to remember the commercials. Here is a video showing how they make the wheels for the Borax wagons. Each of the large wheels weigh over 1,000 lb.
Real craftsmanship. If you watch it, think how it must have been done before.

Ron Long
August 7, 2023 3:18 pm

Good review of Death Valley, Kip, but it provokes flash-backs for me. I previously mentioned driving across Death Valley in June, 1990, and the black vinyl top Blazer overheated to the point of we turned on the heater full blast trying to cool it off. Being Geologists we were prepared with special cold survival liquids which saved us. This trip was to end a gold exploration drilling project on the west side of the Panamint Mountains (the west border of Death Valley). We had put a two-piece drill rig up onto a plateau with a CH-44 SkyCrane, from Siller Brothers in Yuba City, biggest lift 19,000 pounds, but when it was cooler. Now it was hot, and the pilot, Bill Fife, said he could lift the drill rig in ground effect, but the density altitude was so high he could only go downward, but could regain control in ground effect on the valley floor. He pulled it off. Working in the heat is for persons specially prepared, like with special cold survival liquids.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 7, 2023 4:17 pm

I rarely pass up any opportunity to consume cold special survival liquids, whether it’s hot or not.

Black top not recommended for Death Valley in summer.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ron Long
August 7, 2023 9:24 pm

I did my 8-week Summer field mapping course east of Lone Pine at the foot of the White Mountains, in a place called Mazourka Canyon, at about 4,000′ elevation. Despite carrying two canteens, a couple cans of soda, and trying to cool down in an abandoned mine tunnel at lunch, we’d get de-hydrated every day, and then spend the night getting re-hydrated with Gatorade, sodas, and finally water.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 8, 2023 3:48 pm

I left my house every morning for work with a playmate cooler full of cans of diet coke (no sugar, sugar dehydrates you) and bottles of water.
Drank them all in hot weather.
Way over a gallon of liquids. Never peed out a drop of it most days. Got home 5 pounds lighter than when I left.
All back by morning.
I rated how bad it was by how many times I had to take off a soaking wet work shirt and put on another one.
Wet as if I jumped into the lake.
But in Spring, when it was hot and dry, no tee shirt changes at all.
But when I got home, shirt had white streaks all over it.

I did not see anything in the article about whether those people that died had enough water.
If you die of thirst, that is not dying of the heat.

People go to Death Valley on the hottest week of the hottest month and run for 135 miles straight, every Summer.
Running all day, then all night, then all day again.
(They start at night now)
Up mountains, down again, then back up.
To the Mount Whitney trailhead.

Young and old, men and women. Little more than sneakers and a few grams of nylon.

But plenty of whatever they are drinking.
And they are running, in the Sun, on the road, up mountains, across the Badwater Basin, all the way to Whitney Portal.
They used to run to the summit, but can no longer get permits for John Muir Wilderness for competitive events.

This past month, it was July 4th to 6th, the hottest days evah in the hottest place evah.
100 started, 89 official finishers. Probably some finished and missed the cutoffs.
People have done double circuits, triples, and even quadruples.

“In 2001, Marshall Ulrich was the first runner to complete the “Badwater Quad”, consisting of two back-to-back Death Valley 300s for a total of four consecutive Badwater/Whitney transits. He completed the course, a distance in excess of twenty-two marathons, in ten days.
In 2003, Sawyer Manuj became the first Asian-American to complete the Badwater duo.
In 2012, Terry Abrams (54) became the first woman to complete a solo Triple 146 crossing, 438 miles, which includes two summits of Mt. Whitney. She is also the oldest woman to complete the Double, 292 miles.
In 2014, Lisa Smith-Batchen (54) became the first woman to complete the “Badwater Quad”, 584 miles in 15 days.”
AdventureCORPS Presents :: 2023 Badwater 135 :: Race Results

Humans are well adapted to heat.
But we need to have water.

Badwater Records.PNG
August 7, 2023 3:40 pm

 That said, it is just a single data point in the monthly averages data set. Will that be the start of a new trend, a new step-change level? Who knows?

The trend is well established and has only just started to warm in the northern hemisphere. June sunlight at 35N bottomed 1700 years ago and is up 1.2W/m^2 since then. July sunlight is still 400 years from the bottom but not much in terms of reducing solar intensity; just 0.2W/m^2 from the bottom. The daily peak solar intensity at 35N bottomed around 500 years ago.

Then there are all those wind turbines in Texas and Califoprnia robbing wind energy advecting moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific into the region. These will accelerate the warming as the the atmospheric moisture drops off. Atmospheric moisture over Arizona this July was at least a 10 year low.

The western Pacific, China and India are complete opposite in terms of atmospheric moisture. The atmospheric moisture over this region right now is extremely high. Expect new record autumn snowfall across northern China and Japan again this year.

Reply to  RickWill
August 7, 2023 4:19 pm

Hence floods in China, made deadlier by Commie policy.

August 7, 2023 3:40 pm

I live in North Central Texas, and yes—it has been hot for weeks now. That old heat dome is parked right over head. But it is summer, and having survived a 40 year career working stone, out side in all sorts of weather, I know how hot it can get here at times. Summer of 1980 comes to mind. Even know, at 76, I need to do the daily ranch chores as the various critters depend on me for food, water etc., and even with a very wet May, and not too bad June, the pastures are brown now, and I’m supplementing the forage with hay already. Summer in Texas, eh?
BTW, I have been watching the weather almanac and as hot as it has been, we have yet to break a daily record high, and a reporting site for the weather underground just about a mile from my place is always 3 or 4 degrees cooler than the official site in Brownwood. So Texas summer is cooler in the woods than the city–go figure. Yes it is hot, but I know that it has both been hotter, and can be hotter if mama nature so decides.

from another old eagle scout, RUD

Reply to  jvcstone
August 8, 2023 7:38 am

Apparently, according to the weather almanac, we did set a record yesterday (Mon) by one degree, and may do it again today—yippie

August 7, 2023 3:40 pm

If you are venturing into a remote area…

  • Take a Personal Locator Beacon or Satellite Messenger, cell will probably not work.
  • Take a GPS navigation device.
  • Take a means of emergency shelter, like a space blanket tent or better.
  • Take lots of electrolyte drinks and water, more than you think you will need.
  • Take at least one change of clothing and several pairs of socks. Make sure the clothing is appropriate for the possible conditions.
  • Take food in a sealed, concentrated form.
  • Take spare batteries for all your devices in a sealed container.
  • Take a good first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Take tools useful in emergencies, like camp knives, hatchets, saws, fire starters, strong LED flashlights, etc.
  • Tell one or more responsible people where you are going, the itinerary, and when you anticipate making contact.
  • Practice constant situational awareness and learn what hazards are present in your area.
  • Lastly, take a weapon(s) capable of dealing with anticipated threats. Whether you are in the woods or the hoods, predators love defenseless victims. Know how to use it.
Curious George
Reply to  Shoki
August 7, 2023 5:08 pm

Zabriskie Point is NOT a remote area. It is some 700 feet from the parking area. And the trail back is all downhill.

August 7, 2023 3:46 pm

“Data from 2014 to 2016 shows that, on average, about 330 people died in national parks each year, or roughly six people every week, out of more than 300 million annual visitors.” These seven suspected heat-related deaths represent a truly very small number of deaths/thousand visitors and a very small percentage of deaths in National and State parks.

Essentially everybody in the USA goes to a national park every year?

Reply to  bobmounger
August 7, 2023 4:23 pm

Many people visit more than one. A lot are close together and increasingly more near urban centers.

A family might visit six in a two week vacation. CA has nine.

Interactive map. Check out the SW and Appalachian Mountains.

Reply to  Milo
August 8, 2023 9:21 am

Yep, we do exactly that,multiples on each trip. We have two “standard” vacation routes, one Northern and one Southern.
The Southern one we call our “Canyon vacation” and consists of Arches and Canyonlands near Moab, UT, then to Capitol Reef near Torrey, UT, then Bryce Canyon, then Zion Canyon, then Grand Canyon North rim, then through Page, AZ (and Lake Powell) to Monument Valley in NE AZ, then to Grand Canyon South Rim. From there we have gone to Vegas and on to Death Valley, but most often we head East and stop at Meteor Crater (private) before going through Petrified Forest/Painted Dessert National Parks… We’ve also stopped at Sunset Crater. That’s 8-9 National Parks in one trip.
To the North, we do Grand Teton, then Yellowstone, then Glacier, across Montana into N Dakota to Teddy Roosevelt, south to Rapid City and nearby Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument (private), Badlands, and now the Minute Man Missile site. While in Montana it always brings a chill to visit Little Bighorn Battlefield and the Last Stand monument surrounded by headstones of the 7th Cavalry.

Plus, over 14 million visit Great Smoky Mountains NP in Tennessee and North Carolina each year, the most visited NP, and about 5% of the total.

Love our National Parks.

old cocky
Reply to  BobM
August 8, 2023 7:23 pm

Both of those routes sound lovely.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 7, 2023 9:30 pm

The last time I drove through Death Valley, on my way to Las Vegas, I was in a 4WD IH Scout that didn’t have A/C. I stopped in at the headquarters briefly to cool down. I was surprised to see a couple of German tourists wandering around inside in their underwear.

August 7, 2023 4:10 pm

“That drove up the UAH monthly “Version 6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly” to heights only seen three times before (since 1979, the start of the time series).”

Anomalies yes. But in absolute terms, it was by far the warmest month ever recorded by UAH_TLT.

Caleb Shaw
Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 7, 2023 4:58 pm

Yes, off the coast of Antarctica. Temperatures well below freezing there were at times over ten degrees “above normal”. Remove the Antarctic coast from the statistics, and what do you see?

Not that we are not “living in interesting times.” We are.

Reply to  Caleb Shaw
August 7, 2023 8:32 pm

Any other regions of the earth you want to remove to alter the fact that it was the warmest month ‘globally’on record in UAH?

Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 7, 2023 11:12 pm

Again.. SO WHAT !!!

Its a tiny length of record, at the end of a NATURAL WARMING from the coldest period in 10,000 years

Be very thankful for that small amount of warming.

And FFS.. Stop your mindless panic. !

Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 8, 2023 3:52 am

They had tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms along the I-95 corridor yesterday. Very rare for August. Man must have caused it. Right TFN?

Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 7, 2023 5:39 pm

So the warmest month ever recorded except for those months in 2016 and 1998….Avg.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
August 7, 2023 8:33 pm

You better refer that to Dr Spencer, who made the claim. It’s his data.

Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 7, 2023 11:10 pm

In 45 years of data. SO WHAT.!!!!

It is still cooler that nearly all the last 10,000 years.

So, no need for you to PANIC like a mindless chicken-little.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
August 8, 2023 5:54 am

Not to mention 1913 as noted by Kip.

And that’s only the recorded temperature monitoring record, not continuously monitored since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850.

Reply to  TheFinalNail
August 7, 2023 8:22 pm

That’s one persistent bee that you have in your bonnet !

One brain-cell.. one track !

MWP was warmer than now… LIA was cooler.

Nearly all the last 10,000 years were significantly warmer than now.

Mark Luhman
August 7, 2023 5:43 pm

Camelback mountain in Phoenix/Scottsdale claim several people every year. Most get hot and confused and step off a cliff. School children have been lead up that trail by idiot teachers without the necessary water or gear. As Ron White puts it “you can’t fix stupid!”

August 7, 2023 5:50 pm

Here are some fun facts. Smack dab in the middle of the buff zone is another below-sea-level desert basin with temps that rival Death V: the Imperial Valley. It receives less than 3 inches of rain per year and summer temps average over 110° F.

And yet, even so, with all that warmth, the Imperial Valley is one of, if not the, most agriculturally productive places in the USA.

Believe it or not. With irrigation really hot deserts bloom. Plants like it hot (as do some bombshell blonds).

Warmer Is Better. You read it here first.

Reply to  forestermike
August 8, 2023 4:46 am

They definitely don’t like it cold.

John Oliver
August 7, 2023 6:34 pm

I spend a lot of time outdoors on blazing hot roofs at work and on adventure small boat sailing expeditions alone. ( Almost did not make it off a roof one hot summer day working alone, all the energy in me just “evaporated” so quickly after I thought just 10 more minutes is all I need to finish the job. No one was home barely made it down the 40 ft ladder .I am a sweat hog( runs in the family) that is why I do my adventure by boat otherwise I could not carry adequate fluids on my person say hiking. Although I do beech and explore islands and such sometimes

Oh also take a VHF radio and flare gun Land or sea -old school, but can still save your life when no cell or your injured worn out in woods or rock crevice ,and gives direct comm to rescue vehicles/ air or ground .VHF s are cheap now flare gun kit cheap to and lighter weight than they use to be.GPS locator a modern must have also cheap /light now too.

John Hultquist
Reply to  John Oliver
August 7, 2023 7:53 pm

Search-up: inReach by Garmin

John Hultquist
August 7, 2023 6:36 pm

Well done.
Can I add that folks sometimes fall into icy cold water. The “gasp” can cause involuntary inhalation and rapid death. Spray from cascading streams can cause rocks to be slick, while the cool spray is an attraction.
Search for “cold shock response”
This happens a few times each year in the western mountains and warnings have been made in the Lake Tahoe region and the Cascades of Washington State.

Leo Smith
August 7, 2023 7:26 pm

Please remember, it is now August, the second hottest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. 

You may be right but here in the UK at 03:21 BST, the local airbase is registering a measly 10°C. It might even reach 20°C tomorrow. But probably not. Jet stream is stuck running over central Europe

Tom in Florida
August 7, 2023 7:28 pm

Just an add on from my experience working outside in Florida summers for over 30 years. When rehydrating with water, it is best to drink warm not cold water. It is less shock to the body, it goes down much easier allowing you to drink enough quickly and it absorbs faster into your body. And,when possible, start your hydration prior to going out into the heat for any period of time.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 7, 2023 7:55 pm

Search-up: Mom of 2 dies of water intoxication

Dave Fair
August 7, 2023 7:40 pm

Negligent homicide on the part of both the reporter and photographer. Even to the untrained eye the old guy was in extreme physical distress. And they reported that he was not making sense.

It doesn’t matter what he told them nor his refusal to accept a ride; to leave him in that obvious condition without anyone else around in 120+℉ was a death sentence. A simple cell phone call to the authorities would be the minimum response for them to take. With no cell service, one should have stayed and hydrated him while the other drove for help.

I assume, though, that nothing will happen to the “journalist” uncaring pricks.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 8, 2023 1:23 pm

Kip, I believe their own picture and reporting clearly show criminal negligence even if the authorities decline prosecution. Don’t be surprised if civil lawsuits start flying, but I wouldn’t bet on anything.

old cocky
Reply to  Dave Fair
August 8, 2023 3:40 pm

It’s more likely that they are simply clueless and didn’t realise he was in danger.

Clyde Spencer
August 7, 2023 9:14 pm


They can be very hot in the day and the high deserts can then be freezing at night.

My parents moved from Illinois to Phoenix in 1953. That was how Phoenix was in the ’50s. One could get by comfortably in the daytime with a swamp cooler, and then open up the windows at night to further cool down the house in preparation for the next day. The major stores (Sears, and ‘Monkey’ Wards) stayed open until 9 or 10 at night so that people could shop when it was more comfortable.

… found the only shade he could at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley …

There is a Mensa joke about how one can tell a native Phoenician: They own the car parked at the end of the parking lot taking advantage of the shade from the single light pole.

When I moved back to Phoenix for a couple of years in ’95 for a job, I had a Rhodesian Ridgeback. We would frequently take walks in the surrounding desert in the mornings on weekends. She liked to range about 20 yards out in front of me. One time, as I came up over a ridge, I was surprised to find her patiently waiting for me to catch up, while taking advantage of the only shade available — the shadow from a lone saguaro cactus! She was obviously Mensa material. (Although, seriously, how smart can a dog be when two that weigh about 70 lbs each will take on a 500 lb African lion?)

August 7, 2023 9:19 pm

Just a thought – If a 1C temperature rise causes 7% water vapour rise, would a 13% water vapour rise cause a 1.8C temperature rise?

August 7, 2023 9:49 pm

I’m 76 years old and love heat. But obviously, Death Valley would be hot for me. I would like to experience it for a minute or two, just to see what it feels like. I’m curious — when temps get above 120, wouldn’t that burn your lungs?

Reply to  littlepeaks
August 8, 2023 4:13 am

“when temps get above 120, wouldn’t that burn your lungs?”

Nope! And you don’t have to go to Death Valley to experience that kind of heat. Gets that hot at times plenty of other places during the summer. Try the truck parking area in a truck stop in Laredo, TX. Talk about UHI!

Even at various truck stops much further north it gets hot enough that the asphalt in the parking areas have depressed tracks in them from heavy trucks being parked there in the heat of the summer sun. The tracks are so deep you don’t want to drive over them even in a big truck. Like a washboard.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 9, 2023 9:06 am

My local Y sets it at 160. Sometimes people readjust the thermostat, so I have seen it higher.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  littlepeaks
August 9, 2023 9:08 am

No. But, I have found that air at around 120, when very humid, causes me to cough. Dry air is quite tolerable.

August 7, 2023 10:10 pm

Very nice Kip. We need far more information on heat waves and heat domes. It needs to be made easily available maybe even forced on people. I have tried to introduce the notion of heat waves and heat domes but am almost constantly accused of covering for my CAGW skepticism. It is beyond frustrating that the old timer wouldn’t accept help but you are right he should have been reported to authorities immediately. Probably could have used the same phone they took the picture with. What a waste.

August 8, 2023 5:46 am

High temperatures of the type that can be experienced in the Earth’s atmosphere do not kill people. What the actual cause of death is failure of the body’s temperature regulating system usually brought on by dehydration – the body can no longer cool itself by sweating. This failure of the human body’s temperature regulating system can occur at temperatures far lower than experienced in the heat of summer depending upon the hydration of the person and what they are wearing and how hard they are physically working.

Shade obviously is a very large factor in dehydration and thus heat stroke on a sunny day in warmer temperatures.

Having lots of personal experience wearing “moon suits” in radioactively and chemically contaminated environments, which inhibit sweating as a cooling mechanism, one can die of heat stroke with temperatures in the 70s working hard in such clothing. Those who had to work in such clothing were always warned to hydrate well in advance, work only short time periods, and be monitored by others not in moon suits for heat stress, and ordered to leave the controlled area and remove the moon suit, following proper decontamination procedures, so as to cool off properly.

Reply to  Duane
August 8, 2023 9:24 am

I have been down to just my polypro underwear on top in sub zero weather when climbing on Alpine touring skis with a 90 lb. rucksack. Sweating in the heat is good but not in cold conditions.

Dehydration, even in sub zero weather, is an ever present hazard because in such conditions your only source of water comes from melting snow. More than once the team stopped during movements in such conditions just to melt snow for water and fill canteens.

In really cold weather canteens must be carried in a place where body heat prevents them from freezing and at night they go into the sleeping bag with you. And for me, being a medic, all IVs and injectables, and ointments also went in the bag with me at night. My leather Hanwag 3/4 shank mountaineering boots served as my pillow to keep them from freezing up. Weapons were kept outside the shelter to prevent condensation from freezing them up.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  rah
August 9, 2023 9:13 am

One time hiking out of the Grand Canyon in Spring, with snow on the ground, I was carrying a light pack. I was fine everywhere except my back, which was soaking wet with my sweat because it couldn’t evaporate.

August 9, 2023 6:22 am
Just a brief caution comment on electrolyte drinks in my work role in worker Health & Safety. Hydration in hot and humid conditions is extremely important, as other commenters and the author have noted.  We always require that the drinks be diluted 1/2 (water) to avoid over saturation with salts, etc.; a condition that is also heath threating.  It may not taste as sweet or flavorful, but your health is more important than you drink experience.  And no sodas or beer, wait till your outdoor activity is over and you have adiquate shade and cooling.
August 9, 2023 6:28 am

Just a brief caution comment on electrolyte drinks in my work role in managing worker Health & Safety. Hydration in hot and humid conditions is extremely important, as other commenters and the author have noted. We always require that the drinks be diluted 1/2 (water) to avoid over saturation with salts, etc.; a condition that is also heath threating. It may not taste as sweet or flavorful, but your health is more important than you drink “experience”. And no sodas or beer, wait till your outdoor activity is over and you have adequate shade and lower temps.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights