Saturday, December 16, 2006

Planet Ark Reports "Baby, Its Hot Around Here"

2006 Set to be Third Warmest on Record in US - NOAA

WASHINGTON - This year is poised to be the third warmest in the contiguous United States since records began 111 years ago, US government weather forecasters said on Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature will be about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) above the average temperature recorded from 1901 to the end of 2000.

Weather conditions in 1998 and 1934 were slightly warmer.

"The near-record warm summer was highlighted by a July heat wave that peaked during the last half of July," NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said in a statement.

"All-time records were set in a number of locations across the central and western US, breaking records that had stood for decades in many places."

The warmer-than-average conditions reduced residential energy demand in the United States with NOAA estimating consumption about 9 percent less during the winter and 13 percent higher during the summer than would have occurred under otherwise normal conditions.

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season was classified as near-normal with nine named storms forming, marking the second lowest total since 1995. The reduced activity is largely due to El Nino, which reduces storm activity in the Atlantic.

None of the storms hit the United States, bringing relief to residents in Florida and the Gulf Coast impacted during 2004 and 2005.

A year after posting its warmest temperature on record, 2006 is on track to be the sixth warmest for Earth.

Including this year, NOAA said six of the seven warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the ten warmest years have occurred since 1995.

The average surface temperature has risen between 0.6 degrees and 0.7 degrees Celsius since the start of the 20th Century.

NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

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© Reuters News Service 2006

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