World's Hottest Rain Fell in California, Setting New Record

Recently, the world’s hottest rain fell from the sky in California.

It was 119 degrees (Fahrenheit) on July 24 in Imperial, California when it rained, according to weather expert Jeff Masters, prompting the hottest ever rainfall. 

The rain was so hot that one local resident reported it felt hard on their heart and “made it difficult to breathe.”

Masters is a co-founder of the blog Weather Underground, a sort of inside-baseball version of The Weather Channel’s weather.com. He once flew with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hurricane hunters and is now is an online weather buff  known for his detailed explanations. 

“July 24, 2018 was one of the hottest days in California history, as a searing heat wave of rare intensity, even for the Desert Southwest, sent temperatures soaring to near-record levels,” Masters said.

Death Valley  hit 127°F, just 2° short of tying the all-time world record for hottest reliably recorded temperature; Palm Springs hit 122°F, just 1° short of tying its all-time record; and Imperial, California topped out at 121°F, their hottest day since 124°F was measured on  July 28, 1995.”

The intense heat set the stage for the world’s hottest rain, Masters said. The temperature might have gone higher in Imperial Valley if not for clouds that streamed in during the afternoon, with rain showers beginning to fall at 3:53 PDT.

“At the time the rain began, the temperature was an astonishingly high 119°F (48.3°C)—a new world record for the hottest temperature ever measured while rain was falling.

“Most of the rain evaporated since the humidity was only 11 - 15% during the rain event, and only a trace of precipitation was recorded in the rain gauge. Nevertheless, the July 24 rain at 119°F in Imperial sets a new record for the hottest rain in world history,” he said.

Masters explained that rain at temperatures above 100 degrees is rare because heat at that level is usually “accompanied by a high pressure system with sinking air, which discourages clouds and rainfall.” You can read Masters’ full detailed explanation here.

The previous record for the warmest rain occurred in Needles, California on Aug. 13, 2012, when rain fell at temperatures of 118 degrees F.

The new world record for the hottest rain got the attention of other global weather experts. Jeff Berardelli, a contributor to CBS News, a self-described “climate change communicator” and a soon-to-be weather professor at Columbia University, tweeted on the report, “ It means that not only is Earth getting hotter but also more humid. And that is the link between a changing climate and health.”

Imperial is in southeastern Southern California, and has a population of 17,000. The area is known as a tough luck region

Join the Discussion