Las Vegas Hits Record 120°F: Conspiracy Theorists Allege Official Temperature Underreported

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In the often scorching city of Las Vegas, a new record was set as the mercury hit an excruciating 120°F late Sunday afternoon, at precisely 3:38 p.m., according to the National Weather Service’s weather station located at Harry Reid International Airport. As to be expected in a city that thrives on reputation and perception, numerous conspiracy theorists were quick to dispute the reported temperature, insisting that the true temperature frequently surpasses that captured by the official National Weather Service records. Ostensibly under the oversight of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a claim stands that the true swelter of Sin City is intentionally downplayed to avoid deterring potential tourists with the reality of the oppressive summer temperatures.

Established on December 18, 1948, the National Weather Service station—situated at Harry Reid International, so named since 2021—has been the official barometer for recording Las Vegas’s temperatures. Conspiracy theorists, however, suggest that manipulation of this device is widespread. For instance, they suggest its placement in the shade—rather than in the full-blown, sun-drenched center of town—creates a cooler reading. Moreover, some even propose a covert operation to relocate the weather station atop the airport’s air traffic control tower where the air is perceptibly cooler.

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Speculations surrounding these reports are tangible across various forms of media. YouTube user @taylorlto806 commented on a recent video on the “Jacobs Life in Vegas” YouTube channel, dubbing the official readings as, “Lies and misinformation…The weather DOES and HAS exceeded 120 most summers, but it is no longer announced due to tourism.”

In response to these conspiracy theories, National Weather Service meteorologist Daniel Berc, based in the Las Vegas office since 2012, finds it apt to clarify. According to him, all NWS weather stations, including the one at Harry Reid, are in shaded locations. “Historically, all temperatures are measured in the shade to be consistent—as the amount of solar radiation a location gets differs in different areas even when the temperature is the same,” he elucidated. Furthermore, to measure the air temperature accurately, these official thermometers are enclosed in white, vented casings to reflect sunlight while simultaneously permitting air circulation.

Addressing the speculation around the weather station’s secret relocation, Berc stated, “The official NWS Las Vegas weather station has never sat higher than five feet off the ground”. The first such station, established on January 1, 1937, at Nellis Air Force Base, was relocated to Alamo Field (what we know as Las Vegas’ current civilian airport) on December 18, 1948 – when it was still just two days away from being renamed in honor of Senator Pat McCarran.

On September 1, 1995, an automated weather station replaced the old manual one, sitting approximately five feet off the ground and located slightly east of the middle of the airfield. As the new station was automated, it negated the necessity of manual readings, leading to the NWS abandoning their airport office for a new one on Dean Martin Drive.

The location of the weather station was again moved due to the construction of a new taxiway. As a result, since April 19, 2007, the official NWS Las Vegas weather station has operated from the southwest corner of the airport.

As seasoned residents would know, the east side of Las Vegas, especially the region around Boulder Highway, tends to be hotter due to its lower elevation. Berc mentions that this fact may lend some credibility to amateur readings exceeding 120°F, even if rarely.

Berc also enlightened us on why official weather stations are typically located at airports: “Weather is so important to the aviation community”. In fact, between 1948 and 1995, pilots would receive direct flight briefings from meteorologists at the official weather office at Las Vegas airport, collaborating to provide the most accurate information possible.

In contrast, today’s conspiracy theorists, Berc noted, often rely more on an amalgamation of social media speculation, hearsay from misinformed acquaintances, and unverified claims from dubious news sites; a far cry from the concrete information provided by weather professionals.