WSI: Coldest Winter Temperatures in North-Central US; Very Warm in South-Central States

Expect Total US Heating Demand during December-February Period to be 2-10% Less than Last Year and within 1% of 30-Year Averages


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

“The strong La Nina 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 US 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 Nina events have been warm. In the eastern US, 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 US,” said 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 behavior 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 added.

In December, WSI predicts regional temperature anomalies as follows:

Northeast – Colder than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal, except Florida
N Central – Colder than normal
S 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 ESAI, “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.”

In January, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:

Northeast – Warmer than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal, except Florida
N Central – Colder than normal
S Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Colder than normal
Southwest – Colder than normal

Kostas added, “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.”

In February, WSI forecasts:

Northeast – Warmer than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal
N Central – Colder than normal
S 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 centers 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 noted.

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

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. More information about WSI can be found at www.wsi.com.

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.



Contacts:

Linda Maynard
WSI
(978) 983-6715
lmaynard@wsi.com

Tommy Sutro
Energy Security Analysis, Inc.
(781) 245-2036
tsutro@esai.com

Editorial Contact:

Barbara Rudolph
Rudolph Communications, LLC
(781) 229-1811
bjr@rudolphcommunications.com