Last year was the hottest on record in the continental United States. Temperatures averaged more than 2 degrees above normal over the course of the year, and December was the fourth-warmest on record. It was the latest in a nine-year streak of hot temperatures.
Climate experts generally do not make much of temperature fluctuations over one or two years, but Lawrimore said the record 2006 temperatures were part of a long and worrisome trend. For instance, NOAA said, the past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the continental United States....This news has been accompanied by predictions that 2007 will be even warmer than the past two years and may set a new records.
Lawrimore said other NOAA research has found that the rate of temperature increase has been significantly greater in the past 30 years than at any time since the government started collecting national temperature data in 1895. Globally, 2005 was the hottest year on record, Lawrimore said, and 2006 was slightly cooler.
The recent hot temperatures have been blamed on climate change, El Niño, and other regional factors. The blog RealClimate recently ran a post that discussed the interaction of the various factors that affect weather patterns from one year to the next. The post is long but well worth reading. So is this due to global warming? Yes and no.