WSI: Coldest Winter Temperatures Expected in the Northwest with Relatively Mild Winter Ahead in the Eastern US

El Nino Event “Failure to Launch”

Andover, MA, October 23, 2012 — WSI (Weather Services International) expects the November-January period to be cooler-than-normal across the northwestern quarter of the country and in parts of the Southeast, with above-normal temperatures across most of the eastern two-thirds of the country. The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal (1981-2010).

“It is now clear that the previously expected El Nino event is dead on arrival heading into the winter season. We do not expect any of the “classic” El Nino weather impacts in the US this winter,” said Dr. Todd Crawford WSI Chief Meteorologist. “In fact, our forecast looks more like what would be considered a La Nina winter, with the coldest temperatures across the northwestern half of the country and a generally mild winter across much of the eastern US. We expect that the strongest signal this winter will be for cold Alaskan high pressure to direct cold Arctic air southward into western Canada and the northwestern US, with warmer southerly flow in control over much of the eastern US. The biggest wild card heading toward winter is the degree of atmospheric blocking in the North Atlantic, typically referred to as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Over the last few winters there have been wild swings in the NAO, from historically strong blocking winters (2009-10 and 2010-11) and very cold eastern US temperatures, to historically weak winters (2011-12) with record warm temperatures. Recent climate model forecasts and statistical predictors generally suggest that Atlantic blocking will be the exception rather than the rule this upcoming winter, and we feel that the odds are tilted towards another mild winter across much of the eastern US.”

In November, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:
Northeast* – Slightly warmer than normal
Southeast* – Cooler than normal
N Central * – Cooler than normal
S Central* – Warmer than normal
Northwest* – Cooler than normal
Southwest* – Warmer than normal

According to Chris Kostas, Senior Power and Gas Analyst at ESAI, “Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Northeast and the Great Lakes region in November will reduce early-season heating demand in those major gas-centric regions. Heating demand in California is also expected to be below normal. While above-normal heating demand can be expected in the Northwest and Southeast regions (offsetting some of the effects of the mild Northeast temperatures), we expect below-normal heating demand in North America on balance. Mild Consuming Region temperatures should allow for storage injections to continue well into November. Inventories are widely expected to top out near 4,000 Bcf (well above last year’s record 3,851 Bcf). Gas prices should remain soft as a result of soft heating demand and ample supplies. Mild temperatures in MISO, PJM, NY and New England will also keep electrical loads soft. Soft shoulder-season power demand, combined with low gas prices, should keep power prices subdued in those regions. Implied market heat rates will be supported, however, as seasonal generation maintenance reduces available baseload units in November and coal-fired generators struggle to compete against efficient, combined cycle units in a low gas price environment.”

In December, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Warmer than normal
Southeast – Colder than normal
N Central – Colder than normal
S Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Colder than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

“With mild temperatures expected to stretch from Texas to New England in December, delivered gas prices are likely to remain subdued heading into winter. Northeast natural gas basis prices typically begin to increase delivered gas prices in December. However, with mild weather, robust inventories and continued growth of Marcellus shale gas production this year; Northeast basis prices are expected to be very soft, relative to historic averages. New England could be the exception, however, as Algonquin Citygates basis pricing has been demonstrating seasonal strength, due to the growing dependence on natural gas for power generation. Power prices in MISO, PJM and New York are likely to be soft as a result of mild early-winter power demand and weak delivered gas prices. Power and gas prices are also likely to be soft in ERCOT in December as a result of the mild temperatures expected in Texas,” Kostas noted.

In January, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Warmer than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal
N Central – Warmer than normal
S Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Colder than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

“Gas prices are likely to be relatively soft in January considering the warmer-than-normal temperatures that are expected for the eastern two-thirds of the country. In addition, with mild temperatures generally expected for the first two months of the withdrawal season, natural gas inventories in underground storage are likely to remain above the five-year average through the first half of the withdrawal season. Delivered Northeast gas prices (which are typically supported by transportation costs in January) should be soft as a result of lower basis pricing. Cooler weather west of the Rockies will increase gas demand in the Consuming West, but won’t completely offset the decrease in gas demand in the Consuming East and Producing Region. Power prices in ERCOT, MISO, PJM and New York are likely to be soft as a result of the mild temperatures and soft gas prices expected in January,” Kostas added.

WSI provides customized weather information to energy traders. It will issue its final winter outlook on November 20.

*To view the map defining WSI’s US regions, click here.

About WSI
WSI (Weather Services International) is the world's leading provider of weather-driven business solutions for professionals in the energy, aviation and media markets and multiple federal and state government agencies. WSI is a member of The Weather Channel Companies and is headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts with offices in Birmingham, England. The Weather Channel Companies are owned by a consortium made up of NBC Universal and the private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital.

About ESAI
Since its inception in 1984, Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) has been dedicated to monitoring, analyzing and synthesizing information about world-wide energy markets. Tapping the talents of its senior-level staff, ESAI provides clients with unparalleled insight into where the markets have been and where they are headed. ESAI provides ongoing systematic analysis of energy prices in the oil, natural gas and energy markets. For more information on ESAI services, see

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