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First Six Months of 2006 Warmest on Record

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina,  (ENS) - The average temperature for the continental United States from January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. Last month was the second warmest June on record, and nationally averaged precipitation was below average across the United States.

The continuation of below normal precipitation in certain regions and much warmer than average temperatures expanded moderate to extreme drought conditions in the Lower 48 states.

Still, much of the Northeast experienced severe flooding and record rainfall during the last week of June.

The global surface temperature was second warmest on record for June.

The average January-June temperature for the contiguous United States was 51.8 degrees F (11.0 degrees C), or 3.4 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) above the 20th century average.

Five states - Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri - experienced record warmth for the period. No state was near or cooler than average.

In the West, 11 states were much warmer than average. Only five states - Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and South Carolina - were cooler than normal for the month.

The average precipitation for June 2006 across the continental U.S. was 0.3 inches (8 mm) below the 20th century average.

Additionally, from January through June, warm, dry conditions spawned more than 50,000 wildfires, burning more than 3,000,000 acres in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Globally, it was the second warmest June on record for global land and ocean surface temperatures since records began in 1880 (1.08 degrees F/0.60 degrees C above the 20th century mean) and the sixth warmest year to date.