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Nation Experienced Warmest January - August Period On Record

NOAA image of June-August 2006 statewide temperature rankings.Sept. 14, 2006 Summer 2006 was the second warmest June-to-August period in the continental U.S. since records began in 1895, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the 2006 January-to-August period was the warmest on record for the continental U.S. Above-average rainfall last month in the central and southwestern U.S. improved drought conditions in some areas, but moderate-to-extreme drought continued to affect 40 percent of the country. (Click NOAA image for larger view of June-August 2006 statewide temperature rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)

U.S. Temperature Highlights
The average June-August 2006 temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 2.4 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 72.1 degrees F (22.3 degrees C). This was the second warmest summer on record, slightly cooler than the record of 74.7 degrees F set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl era. This summer's average was 74.5 degrees F. Eight of the past ten summers have been warmer than the U.S. average for the same period.

NOAA image of June-August 2006 statewide precipitation rankings.The persistence of the anomalous warmth in 2006 made this January-August period the warmest on record for the continental U.S., eclipsing the previous record of 1934. (Click NOAA image for larger view of June-August 2006 statewide precipitation rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)

A blistering heat wave in July impacted most of the nation, breaking more than 2,300 daily records and more than 50 all-time high temperature records. Additional high temperature records were broken during the first part of August.

The Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI) ranked this summer as the sixth highest index in the 112-year record. Using this index, NOAA scientists determined that the nation's residential energy demand was approximately 10 percent higher than what would have occurred under average climate conditions for the season.

Last month was the 11th warmest August on record in the contiguous U.S.

NOAA image of January-August 2006 statewide precipitation rankings.U.S. Precipitation Highlights
The summer's record and near-record heat, combined with below-average precipitation, worsened drought conditions throughout much of the summer for large parts of the country. But above-average rainfall in August helped ease drought conditions in some of the most severely affected states. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January-August 2006 statewide precipitation rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)

An active monsoon season in the Southwest gave New Mexico its wettest August on record, and precipitation in Arizona also was above average. Drought relief extended to New Mexico, parts of Arizona and west Texas. However, the heavy downpours brought flooding across parts of the entire region.

NOAA image of January-August 2006 statewide temperature rankings.The Plains states, the Midwest, the Carolinas and parts of the Northeast benefited from above-average precipitation in August. This helped reduce drought severity in other areas such as the Dakotas and parts of Oklahoma but was not sufficient to end drought in the most severely affected parts of those states. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January-August 2006 statewide temperature rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Drought conditions worsened in some parts of the country. Rainfall in August was below normal from Montana to southern California and the Pacific Northwest. This contributed to a continuing and already-active wildfire season. Through early September, the number of acres burned in the U.S. is nearing the record of almost 8.7 million acres burned during all of 2005, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Global Highlights
It was the third warmest June-August (northern hemisphere summer) on record for global land- and ocean-surface temperatures since records began in 1880 (1.01 degrees F/0.56 degrees C above the 20th century mean) and the fourth warmest August (0.0.97 degrees F/0.54 degrees C). The warmest northern-hemisphere summer and August occurred in 1998.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
Climate of 2006: August in Historical Perspective

NOAA Drought Information Center

Media Contact:
John Leslie, NOAA Satellite and Information Service, (301) 713-1265