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Colder U.S. north, warmer south winter predicted

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Colder U.S. north, warmer south winter predicted

Weather Services International expects the upcoming December–February period to bring below-normal temperatures across the northern United States.


November 23, 2010
By Weather Services International

Nov. 23, 2010, Andover, MA – Weather
Services International
(WSI) expects the upcoming December–February period to
average warmer than normal across most of the southern half of the United
States, with the exception of Florida and southern California. Below-normal
temperatures are expected across the northern United States, especially in the
northern Rockies and north-central United States. The WSI seasonal outlooks
reference a standard 30-year normal (1971–2000).

"The strong La Niña event combined
with the persistent negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation should
result in a cold winter across most of the northern half of the United States
this winter, especially across the northern Rockies and the north-central
states. A very mild winter is likely in south-central states, where 13 of the
last 14 moderate/strong La Niña events have been warm. In the eastern United
States, we expect aggregate seasonal temperatures closer to normal, with the
best chances for cold occurring in December. January appears to be the most
likely month for any extended warmth across the eastern United States,"
says WSI chief meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford. "However, the historically
persistent negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation suggests that any
mild spells may be short-lived this winter across the east. For the
December–February period as a whole, we are forecasting 2474 gas-weighted
heating degree days, within 1% of the 1971–2000 mean values and 4% less than
last year. The most drastic difference from last year is electric-weighted
heating degree days, where we expect a 10% year-over-year reduction."

"The recent behaviour of the North
Atlantic Oscillation, along with the fact that current and recent
atmospheric/oceanic patterns have closely resembled those from the 1950s–1970s
period, has reinforced our hypothesis that there may have been a fundamental
climate shift in 2008 that will result in weather patterns more similar to
those found 40–60 years ago," Dr. Crawford adds.

WSI predicts regional temperature anomalies in December as follows:

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  • Northeast: colder than normal;
  • Southeast: warmer than normal, except Florida;
  • North Central: colder than normal;
  • South Central: warmer than normal;
  • Northwest: colder than normal;
  • Southwest: warmer than normal, except coastal California.

According to Chris Kostas, senior power and
gas analyst at Energy Security Analysis Inc., "Increased gas demand from
the north, particularly the Midwest and Northeast, will only be partially
offset by lower demand in the South. As a result, gas demand in December will
likely be higher than normal. Delivered gas prices in the Northeast and Midwest
shouldn't be as volatile as previous cold Decembers, however, due to high
inventories and strong production."

For January, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:

  • Northeast: warmer than normal;
  • Southeast: warmer than normal, except Florida;
  • North Central: colder than normal;
  • South Central: warmer than normal;
  • Northwest: colder than normal;
  • Southwest: colder than normal.

Kostas adds, "With reduced heating
demand in much of the producing and consuming regions, full storage levels to
start the season, and expected high natural gas production, gas prices are
likely to be weak in January. Some of the reduced gas demand, however, will be
offset by the colder-than-normal temperatures in the Northwest and Midwest.
Power and gas prices will likely be soft from the Mid-Atlantic region through
New England as gas basis and electrical loads remain low on mild
temperatures."

For February, WSI forecasts:

  • Northeast: warmer than normal;
  • Southeast: warmer than normal;
  • North Central: colder than normal;
  • South Central: warmer than normal;
  • Northwest: colder than normal;
  • Southwest: colder than normal.

"With two straight months of
warmer-than-normal temperatures and lower heating demand in the major demand
centres of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, supplies are expected to be
plentiful and gas prices subdued in February. The colder regions in February
are not expected to provide enough heating demand to offset the decrease from
the warmer regions. With record inventories to start the heating season, and
two straight months of lower-than-normal aggregate weather related demand,
inventory levels are expected to be high and gas prices subdued heading into
March," Kostas notes.

WSI, which provides customized weather
information to energy traders, will issue its next seasonal outlook on
December 21.


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