kpw10 writes "Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground has a great summary of this year's rather abnormal weather (his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis). The post discusses some of the cyclical climate forces at work this year and compares this year's record temperatures to records from the past. There are some interesting differences, particularly in the extent of the northern hemisphere seeing record highs this year."
From the article: "December's weather in the Northeast U.S. may have been a case of the weather dice coming up thirteen — weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago. The weather dice will start rolling an increasing number of thirteens in coming years, and an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summertime by 2040 is a very real possibility..."
Here is the The National Climatic Data Center's report announcing the entry of 2006 into the record books