Visitor dies in Death Valley, another hospitalized amid record-breaking heat wave

A visitor died Saturday from heat exposure in Death Valley Saturday, and another person was hospitalized as the national park recorded a high temperature of 128 F over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.

The two visitors were part of a group of six motorcyclists riding through the Badwater Basin area amid scorching weather, the park said in a statement.

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The person who died was not identified. The other motorcyclist was transported to a Las Vegas hospital for "severe heat illness," according to officials.

The other four members of the party were treated at the scene.

This comes amid a long-running heat wave that has already shattered previous records across the U.S.

California's Death Valley - one of the hottest places on Earth - broke its own heat record for the day on Friday, with the mercury soaring to 127 F. It beat the old mark of 122 F last tied in 2013.

A welcome sign is seen as 122 Fahrenheit (50 C) in Death Valley, California, United States on June 6, 2024. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

As of Sunday at 5 p.m., officials have not released the final temperature recordings for Death Valley. 

If the temperature hits above 130 degrees, it would set the record for the hottest temperature ever "reliably measured on earth," as reported by the Scientific American.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 134 F (56.67 C) in July 1913 at Furnace Creek, said Randy Ceverny of the World Meteorological Organization, the body recognized as keeper of world records. Temperatures at or above 130 F have only been recorded on Earth a handful of times, mostly in Death Valley, the Associated Press reports. 

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An excessive heat warning — the National Weather Service’s highest alert — was in effect for about 36 million people Sunday, or about 10% of the population, said NWS meteorologist Bryan Jackson. Dozens of locations in the West and Pacific Northwest tied or broke previous heat records.

Tourists visit Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley in California, United States on June 7, 2024. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Park officials are warning anyone planning to visit Death Valley that heat illness and injury are cumulative and can build over the course of a day or days.

"High heat like this can pose real threats to your health," said park Superintendent Mike Reynolds.

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"Besides not being able to cool down while riding due to high ambient air temperatures, experiencing Death Valley by motorcycle when it is this hot is further challenged by the necessary heavy safety gear worn to reduce injuries during an accident," the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.