Hottest Cities in the World

At least two cities contend closely for the title of 'Hottest City in the World'. What city ranks the hottest depends on how you look at the temperatures.

Here we compare the world's most sweltering cities in terms of highest temperatures, hottest nights, and most days of extreme heat. So you can judge which is the World's Hottest City.

Cities With the Highest Highs

In the world's hottest cities, temperatures get above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) nearly every day for months at a time. Dozens of cities in the Middle East and Africa have extended periods of 40-degree weather.

It's in deserts along the Persian Gulf, on the Arabian Peninsula and in Iraq and Iran, where cities have exceptionally searing summers. In two cities here, the heat rises above the rest. Only Kuwait City and Ahwaz report having months with daily maximum temperatures averaging above 46 °C (115 °F).

Kuwait City lies on the coast near the head of the Persian Gulf. Capital of the tiny country of Kuwait, the city itself houses just over 30 thousand people, but it adjoins other cities that together form a large metropolitan area extending into the desert.

Ahwaz, also spelled Ahvaz, sprouts from the desert of western Iran with a population of close to a million. Although inland from the Persian Gulf, Ahwaz sits at just 23 metres (75 feet) above sea level.

The only cities that come close to the regular 46-degree temperatures of Kuwait City and Ahwaz lie roughly between the two cities. In southern Iraq, maximum temperatures average 44.8 °C (112.6 °F) in July and August at An Nasiriya, while Al Amarah has average highs of 45.5 °C (113.9 °F) in July and 44.9 °C (112.8 °F) in August.

How Hot is That?

A 46 °C climate is so hot that it's well beyond the hottest weather ever experienced in many other countries. Forty-six Celsius tops by a degree ( 1.8 degrees F) Canada's record high temperature and is 7.5 degrees C (13.5 degrees F) warmer than the hottest day in the United Kingdom. Temperatures that would break records in some counties are normal weather, day after day, for several months a year in the world's hottest cities.

The only place in the United States with 46-degree heat is North America's hottest spot, Death Valley in eastern California. Summer temperatures at Death Valley soar to average highs of 46.5 °C (115.7 °F) in July and 45.4 °C (113.8 °F) in August.

Highest Daily Temperatures

Ahwaz and Kuwait are nearly equal in their average maximum temperatures during the year's two hottest months. For both cities in July, highs average 46.7°C (116.1 °F).

In August, Kuwait City squeaks ahead with a 46.9 °C (116.4 °F) average high, while Ahwaz is just one-tenth of a degree Celsius cooler at 46.8°C (116.2 °F). These temperatures are averages from 1994 until 2008 for Kuwait City and from 1994 to 2005 for Ahwaz, the most recent periods of data available from their meteorological offices.

Of course some months have received above average weather. The hottest month on record for Ahwaz was July 2000, when daytime temperatures reached an average 48.1°C (118.6 °F). Nearly as sizzling were August 2000 and July 1989 when highs averaged 48.0°C (118.4 °F). Since 1952, the Ahwaz weather station has measured temperatures of 50 °C (122 °F) or higher on several dozen days.

Most Extreme Heat

Despite Kuwait City having a marginally greater average, Ahwaz leads the way in extreme temperatures. Several times Ahwaz has achieved temperatures higher than those ever recorded in Kuwait City.

From 1970 to 2000, Ahwaz made it to 52 °C (125.6 °F) or more on three days. Ahwaz had a high of 52.0 on July 12, 1971 and 52.2 °C (126 °F) on July 1, 2000. Neither of those broke any temperature records for the city, since it had already reached 54.0 °C (129.2 °F) on July 15, 1967.

Meanwhile, 52 °C has never been officially documented, as of 2010, in Kuwait City.

City With the Hottest Nights

In most hot cities when daytime temperatures top 40 °C, it usually cools down at night to the mid-20s. Just a few cities have a month of nighttime lows that stay above 30 °C (86 °F), and Kuwait City is one.

During the hottest months of the year, Ahwaz at night normally gets about a degree Celsius cooler than Kuwait City. But the Kuwaiti nights are not the warmest among cities.

Even hotter nights occur in Oman, a country located south of Kuwait on the Arabian Peninsula. Several cities in Oman stay above 30 °C at night in summer, including Buraimi, Sur and Rustaq, plus the capital, Muscat.

The country's hottest city that measures weather is Samail, where from June to August nights generally don't go below 30 degrees. Samail's hottest nights are in July, which average 31.4 °C (88.5 °F), while the days climb to around 43 °C (109.4 °F).

Most Hot Days a Year

The 40-plus heat that descends on Kuwait and Ahwaz stays for five months every year, from May to September. Not only are the highest highs of these two cities exceptional, so is the longevity of their really hot season. Although many cities do have months averaging above 40 degrees, only a few sustain 40-degree weather for as long as five months a year, notably Buraimi in Oman and Mecca (Makkah) in Saudi Arabia.

Outside of their intensely hot months, temperatures cool substantially in Kuwait City and Ahwaz. Average highs drop to less than 30 °C (86 °F) from November through March, and even go below 20 °C (68 °F) in January. During winter, Ahwaz's location about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Kuwait helps make it a little cooler. Outside of the summer months, daytime highs in Ahwaz remain a degree or two lower than those at Kuwait City.

Meanwhile at Burami, winters stay warmer than Kuwait City's, averaging below 30 °C only from December to February. At Mecca though, winter brings even less respite from the heat. The city near the Red Sea has daily highs averaging above 30 degrees every month of the year, ranging from 30.2 °C (86.4 °F) in January to 43.6 °C (110.5 °F) in June.

Yet for some cities the weather never even gets as cool as Mecca's. Possibly the only city with daily maximum temperatures averaging above 34 °C (93.2 °F) for every month is Ciudad Bolivar in Venezuela. Winter never happens there. Although Ciudad Bolivar's monthly highs only average at most 37.7 °C (99.9 °F), its coldest months, June and July, are still at 34.8 °C (94.6 °F).

So perhaps this means Ciudad Bolivar is the world's hottest city.

Average monthly temperatures in °C for Kuwait City, Kuwait (1994-2008) and Ahwaz, Iran (1994-2005).
Month Kuwait City Ahwaz, Iran
  High Low High Low
January 19.5 8.5 18.1 8.9
February 21.8 10.0 20.9 9.8
March 26.9 14.0 25.6 13.4
April 33.9 19.5 32.8 19.1
May 40.9 25.4 40.2 24.3
June 45.5 28.9 45.0 27.3
July 46.7 30.7 46.7 29.8
August 46.9 29.5 46.8 29.1
September 43.7 26.2 42.7 24.7
October 36.6 21.5 36.4 20.3
November 27.8 14.5 26.6 13.8
December 21.9 9.9 19.7 10.0
Annual 34.3 19.9 33.5 19.2

Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization. Climate Statistics.

World Meteorological Organization. World Weather Information Service.

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