Publication Date July 1, 2019

French Station Breaks All-Time Heat Record by Astounding Margin

Catherine Bernard, wine producer, looks at her heat-damaged vines on Sunday, June 30, 2019, in Restinclieres, near Montpellier, in the South of France. Credit: Sylvain Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

Not only was Friday, June 28, 2019 the hottest day in French history, it also featured record-breaking heat so extreme that only one other heat wave in world history can match it. The temperature at Montpellier-Fréjorgues airport hit 43.5°C (110.3° F) on June 28, 2019, breaking the station’s previous record by a truly incredible 5.8° C (10.4° F). The station’s period of record extends back 74 years, to 1946.


Usually, when a station with a long period of record beats its all-time mark, the new record is at most a degree or two Fahrehneit beyond the old record. In rare cases, the new record will exceed the old one by five or more degrees. It is nearly unheard of for the record to be broken by more than 10°F. Indeed, weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera said in an email that there is only one other case in world history of a station with a long period of record having a heat wave with a larger spread between the first- and second-place marks: on July 6, 1936, the temperature in Steele, North Dakota, soared to 121°F (49.4°C), the highest temperature ever recorded in the state of North Dakota. Steele’s second highest temperature (except in the same heat wave in 1936) was only 110°F (43.3°C) in 1934. So, the temperatures in the 1936 heat wave beat the station’s second-place heat wave by an incredible margin of 11°F (6.1°C).