Well it appears we are finally seeing our first week this year that has reached and will remain in the 80's. So are we hot yet? I suppose if you're from Canada it may feel hot. But around here 80's and low humidity are considered ideal by many. So what part of the United States is the champ when it comes to searing heat? Did you guess correctly? Try Death Valley, California.
Here are a couple key points about this place. First and mostly obviously, it is in a valley, a serious valley! Secondly, it is located in the southwestern US and is the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level! So why are these key points? For starters, the southwestern US is generally insulated from cold air outbreaks. Those Arctic air masses we hear about diving down from Canada tend to move south and then eastward, away from California. Next, Death Valley is surrounded by towering mountains. To the west, the Sierra Nevada range has peaks around 11 and 12 thousand feet. And it's the same situation to the east in Nevada with huge mountains. Thus, when the wind blows from either direction, it blows down the mountains warming at 5.5 degrees per 1,000 ft. So 60 degree air during the summer in the mountains could translate to 126 degrees as it blows down into the valley! And don't forget, the sun is out too adding more heat of its own, and the dry air out there is very responsive to it.