WASHINGTON - At the halfway point, 2006 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record for the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Based on preliminary data, the average January to June temperature for the contiguous United States was 51.8°F, which is 3.4° above the average temperature during the 20th century. The heat is taxing electrical power systems while a continued drought is depleting hydropower resources. In June, 45 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought, an increase of 6 percent from May, while 27 percent was in severe-to-extreme drought, an increase of 7 percent from May.

This year is also shaping up to be the sixth warmest on record worldwide, with January to June average temperatures at 0.9° above the 20th-century mean.

Publication date: 07/24/2006