WSI: Bitterly Cold Early Winter Temperatures Across Eastern US Likely to Moderate

Worst Winter Cold Generally Confined to the Northern Third of the US, Above-Normal Temperatures Across the South and East

ANDOVER, Mass. (November 26, 2013) — WSI (Weather Services International) expects the winter (December-January) to be colder than normal across the northern tier of US and all of southern Canada, with above-normal temperatures common across most of the southern two-thirds of the US. The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal (1981-2010).

According to WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford: “The brutally cold early winter weather across the eastern US has been the result of a seemingly endless supply of Arctic air masses plowing southeastward across Canada. This pattern has been driven by strong and persistent atmospheric ridging across the North Pacific. As long as this ridging continues, the risk of widespread cold temperatures will continue. However, any weakening or displacement of this ridging will lead to significantly warmer risks across the US due to the expected strength of the polar vortex. There are several reasons why we expect a stronger-than-normal polar vortex this winter, including a weaker-than-normal Siberian high, a recent spike in solar activity, and the continuation of very strong westerly winds in the equatorial stratosphere. This strong polar vortex should generally confine the cold air to northern latitudes, and should allow much of the South to bask in a mild winter.”

In December, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:
Northeast – Colder than normal north, warmer than normal south (including Boston to Washington DC corridor)
Southeast – Warmer than normal
North Central  – Colder than normal
South Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Colder than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

According to Chris Kostas, Senior Power and Gas Analyst at ESAI Power LLC: “Considering the slightly warmer-than-normal December forecast for the South and along the East Coast (including major demand centers like Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C.), we believe aggregate natural-gas demand will run slightly below normal between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. New York City could experience relatively soft delivered gas prices in December given the slightly warmer-than-normal weather forecast and Spectra Energy’s recently completed New Jersey-New York pipeline upgrade (which is capable of delivering an additional 0.8 Bcf/day of natural gas into New York City). Natural gas prices at Henry Hub should also find bearish pricing pressures in December given the expectation for mild southern temperatures.”

In January, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Colder than normal north, warmer than normal south (including Boston to Washington DC corridor)
Southeast – Warmer than normal
North Central – Warmer than normal, except extreme north
South Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Colder than normal north (including Seattle), warmer than normal south (including Portland)
Southwest – Warmer than normal

Kostas added: “If warmer-than-normal temperatures materialize over much of the country as WSI expects, North American natural-gas prices could soften considerably in January. Warmer-than-normal January temperatures would also provide an inventory overhang for the second half of the winter. Robust inventories at the end of January would increase downside price risk for the February-March period. Delivered natural-gas prices in PJM and New York could hit very soft levels in January considering the significant year-over-year increase in shale-gas production in Pennsylvania. Winter price expectations in New England (i.e. Algonquin Citygate) have been extraordinarily high this year, with January price quotes approaching $15.00/MMBtu. We believe New England gas prices will average below that level in January given the warmer-than-normal temperatures expected over the southern portion of the region.”

In February, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Colder than normal north
Southeast – Warmer than normal
North Central – Colder than normal
South Central – Warmer than normal
Northwest – Warmer than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

Kostas continued: “Slightly colder-than-normal Northeast and Midwest temperatures in February should help to firm up natural-gas demand and delivered prices in PJM, New York, and New England. Mild temperatures elsewhere, however, should help to offset the increase in Northeast natural-gas demand. While February prices will depend on the level of cold in the Northeast and the number of cumulative population-weighted heating degree days across the country, we believe downside fundamental risk has developed given the forecast for a mild January-February period.”

WSI provides customized weather information to global commodity traders via its industry-leading WSI Trader Web site. WSI will issue its next seasonal outlook on December 24.

About WSI Corporation
WSI (Weather Services International) and Weather Central are the world's leading providers of weather-driven business solutions for professionals in the energy, aviation, insurance and media markets, as well as multiple federal and state government agencies. Together they comprise the professional division of The Weather Company and 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 www.esai.com.

Media Contacts:
Linda Maynard, WSI
(978) 983-6715, lmaynard@wsi.com

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