The Most Extreme Conditions Ever Seen on Earth [pics]

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There have been volcanic eruptions thousands of times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens. Recent storms have redefined the ranking systems for wind speeds. The hottest place on Earth has hit temperatures 288 degrees hotter than the coldest place on earth.

Yep, it’s an amazing world. Here is a compilation of the most extreme conditions that add a little spice (and devastation) to the planet Earth and its inhabitants.

The Fastest Recorded Wind Speed Near Earth’s Surface

Oklahoma, United States - 318 MPH

A recorded wind speed of 318 mph, the fastest ever recorded near earth’s surface, happened on May 3rd, 1999 when an F5-tornado plowed it’s way through parts of Oklahoma leaving behind devastation and disaster.

There are sources that have stated the wind speed only reached 301-302 mph, which would continue to hold the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded near earth’s surface. However,the NWS stationed in Norman, OK reported it to be 318 mph via DOW Radar. There is no other source of wind measurement that can withstand such speeds that we know of.

Prior to this recording, Oklahoma still held the highest wind speed ever recorded in a tornado near Red Rock, OK on April 26th, 1991 with wind speeds of approximately 286 mph.

(Sources: USA Today,

The Driest Place on Earth

The Dry Valleys of Antartica - Rain-free for 2 million years and counting

One interior region of the Antarctic is known as The Dry Valleys. These valleys have not seen rainfall in over two million years. With the exception of one valley, whose lakes are briefly filled with water by inland flowing rivers during the summer, the Dry Valleys contain no moisture (water, ice, or snow).

The reason why the Dry Valleys exist are the 200 mph Katabatic down winds which evaporate all moisture. The dry valleys are strange: except for a few steep rocks they are the only continental part of Antarctica devoid of ice.

Located in the Trans-Antarctic Range, they correspond to a mountain area where evaporation (or rather, sublimation) is more important than snowfall, thus all the ice disappears, leaving dry barren land.

(Sources: Wikipedia,,,

The Hottest Recorded Temperature

Lut Desert of Iran - 159 °F

A NASA satellite recorded surface temperatures in the Lut desert of Iran as high as 71 °C (159 °F), the hottest temperature ever recorded on the surface of the Earth. This region which covers an area of about 480 kilometers is called Gandom Beriyan (the toasted wheat).

Its surface is wholly matted with black volcano lava. This dark cover absorbs excessive sunshine, which due to difference of temperature with neighboring elevations forms a wind tunnel. There are reports that no living creature lives in this region. That is why this is arguably the driest place on earth next to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

(Sources: Wikipedia,

The Coldest Recorded Temperature

Antarctica - 129 °F below zero

The lowest temperature ever recorded on earth was -129 °F recorded in 1983 at the Russian Base Vostok in Antarctica. Antarctica, a continent owned by no one, covers the southern end of our globe.

In addition to being the coldest place on earth, Anarctica is also the wettest and the driest place on earth.

Most of Antarctica is covered with vast areas of snow and ice which reflect about 75% of the incoming solar radiation. Winter temperatures are also influenced by latitude, elevation and by the shortage of sunlight during the Antarctic winter. In fact, the coldest temperatures are usually during late August before the return of the sun.


The Most Rainfall in 24 Hours

La Reunion Island, Indian Ocean - 6ft 2in

As you can see by the image below, this volcanic island in the middle of the Indian Ocean could use the rainfall. They just weren’t expecting to get over 6 ft in a day.

Between March 15-16th, 1952, Cilaos at the center of Réunion, received approximately 74 in (6ft.2″) of rainfall. This is the greatest 24-hour precipitation total ever recorded on earth. The island also holds the record for most rainfall in 72 hours, approximately 155 in (12ft.11″) at Commerson’s Crater in March, 2007.

(Sources: Wikipedia, DailyMail)

The Longest Bolt of Lightning Ever Recorded

From Waco to Dallas, Texas, United States - 118 Miles Long

Positive lightning develops in the same way as typical lightning bolts, but the positive bolt draws electrons upward from the ground.

These lightning bolts tend to be much, much stronger than regular lightning, and may carry as much as a hundred times the energy of a normal flash of lightning.

These “superbolts” of lightning, thankfully, are very rare. Only about five superbolts occur for every ten million normal lightning strokes.

Superbolts can reach way beyond the normal eight to ten miles of a typical lightning stroke. The longest superbolt on record reached from Waco, Texas to Dallas, after having traveled about a 118 miles.

(Sources: Stormblogging, Wikipedia, astrosurf, flickr

The Largest Volcanic Eruption

La Garita Caldera in SW Colorado, United States - 1,200 cu miles

This was chosen because of the firm evidence rather than theory. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera was the largest known eruption since the Ordovician period, with a VEI magnitude of 8.

The scale of La Garita volcanism was far beyond anything known in human history. The resulting deposit, known as the Fish Canyon Tuff, has a volume of approximately 5,000 cubic kilometers (1,200 cu mi), enough material to fill Lake Michigan (in comparison, the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was only 1.2 cubic kilometers (0.3 cu mi) in volume).

The area devastated by the La Garita eruption is thought to have covered a significant portion of what is now Colorado, and ash could have fallen as far as the east coast of North America and the Caribbean.

(Sources: Answers, USGS, Wikipedia, wikimedia)

The Deepest Place on Earth

Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean - 6.77 miles

The Mariana Trench (or Marianas Trench) is the deepest part of the world’s oceans, and the deepest location on the surface of the Earth’s crust. It has a maximum depth of about 10.9 km (6.77 mi), and is located in the western North Pacific Ocean, to the east and south of the Mariana Islands, near Guam.

The bottom of the trench is farther below sea level than Mount Everest is above it (8,850m/29,035ft).

(Sources:, Wikipedia)

The Largest Recorded Earthquake

Valdivia earthquake, Chile - 9.5

The Valdivia earthquake or Great Chilean Earthquake of May 22, 1960 is the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. It caused localised tsunamis that severely battered the Chilean coast, with waves up to 25 meters (82 feet).

Coastal villages, such as Toltén, disappeared. Later studies argued that the earthquake actually had 37 epicenters through a 1,350 km (839 mi) north-south line that lasted from May 22 to June 6th 1960.

Elsewhere along the western coast of the United States, Crescent City, California, experienced notable tsunami waves and run-up. The tsunami travel time of the first wave to arrive at Crescent City was 15.5 hours after the occurrence of the earthquake in Chile.

At Crescent City, tsunami waves of up to 1.7 meters (appr. 5.6 feet) were observed and minor damage was reported.

(Sources:, Wikipedia,

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