U.S. EXPERIENCED RECORD WARM FIRST HALF OF YEAR, WIDESPREAD DROUGHT AND NORTHEAST RECORD RAINFALL
July 14, 2006 — 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, N.C. Last month was the second warmest June on record and nationally averaged precipitation was below average. The continuation of below normal precipitation in certain regions and much warmer-than-average temperatures expanded moderate-to-extreme drought conditions in the contiguous U.S. However, 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. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January-June 2006 statewide temperature rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
The nation observed the second warmest June on record this year. 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 June statewide average temperature for Alaska was near average, and January-June was 0.55 degrees F (0.30 degrees C) cooler than the 1971-2000 average.
Record rainfall in parts of the Northeast during May and June contributed to the wetter-than-normal first half of the year for that region. Heavy precipitation along the East Coast from June 22-28 resulted in widespread flooding. For example, Washington’s Reagan National Airport reported 11.37 inches (289 mm) during that time and a record June total of 14.02 inches (356 mm). More than 10 inches (254 mm) of rain fell in Federalsburg on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in a 24-hour period. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January-June 2006 statewide precipitation rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
In June, 45 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought (based on the Palmer Drought Index), an increase of 6 percent from May, while 27 percent was in severe-extreme drought (up from 20 percent in May). 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.
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