2006 is already setting heat records

January to June 2006 was the warmest first half of the year in the continental U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895, and the sixth-warmest in the world as a whole, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Alaska, far eastern Europe, and parts of Russia posted cooler-than-average temperatures, but the rest of the Northern Hemisphere was right toasty. The U.S. average temperature in the first half of 2006 was 51.8 degrees, 3.4 degrees above the 20th-century average. And heeere’s summer: Excessive heat warnings have been issued in many cities across the country as temperatures are hitting three digits; nearly half of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought as of June. “It’s not supposed to be hot like this,” says Connie Clayton, a longtime resident of Fraser, Colo., the nation’s self-proclaimed icebox at an elevation of 8,550 feet. “Lately there have been evenings when you could sit outside at 10 p.m. without a coat. All my life I couldn’t do that.”