WSI Calls for Continuation of Cold Winter Across Much of US, Especially February/March in Northeast

WSI and ESAI Say Total Energy Usage During the Period Should Be Slightly More than Last Winter, Reducing Gas Inventories

Andover, MA - December 22, 2009  — WSI expects the upcoming period (January-March) to average cooler than normal in the entire US, with the exception of areas north and west of a line from Portland, Oregon to Minneapolis. The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal (1971-2000).

“The combination of the current El Nino event, cold north Pacific, and weakened stratospheric vortex are favorable for a continuation of widespread below-normal temperatures across the US for the upcoming season” said WSI seasonal forecaster Dr. Todd Crawford. “There may be a relaxation of the current cold pattern in the Northeast during January, followed by a return to more consistent cold in February and March. We are forecasting 2475 gas-weighted heating degree days during the January-March period, approximately 2.5% more than last year and about 2% more than the 1971-2000 mean.”

In January, WSI predicts regional temperature anomalies as follows:

Northeast – Warmer than normal, except PA/NJ/DE
Southeast – Colder than normal
N Central – Colder than normal, except MN/WI
S Central – Colder than normal
Northwest – Warmer than normal
Southwest – Colder than normal

According to Paul Flemming of ESAI, “The WSI January forecast shows cooler-than-normal temperatures across most of the country with warmer-than-normal temperatures across the northern tier. Lower gas demand across the warmer northern regions will certainly moderate the demand effects of cooler temperatures in much of the rest of the country. Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Northeast will marginally lower electrical loads and associated gas demand for heating. Delivered gas prices in the constrained areas of the Northeast markets should see less volatility with warmer temperature expectations.”

In February, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:

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

“For February, WSI is forecasting colder-than-normal temperatures on a nationwide basis. Natural gas demand is likely to be very strong with high residential and commercial heating demand as well as increased demand from the power sector. Natural gas inventories are likely to see significant draws in February under this cold weather outlook. Residual fuel oil prices continue to be high relative to gas, although under severe cold conditions delivered gas prices could spike above fuel oil prices in some areas, particularly in the Northeast,” said Paul Flemming. “In the West, much-colder-than-normal temperatures will increase the bullish outlook for gas in February.”

In March, WSI forecasts:

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

“In March, WSI is forecasting significantly colder-than-normal temperatures across the Northeast but generally warmer temperatures west of the Mississippi. Overall, gas demand will be balanced by strong demand in the Northeast and moderate demand in the west. Colder weather in March will be bullish for power prices in the Northeast especially in areas that start spring generator maintenance early in the season,” according to Paul Flemming. “Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Western regions should moderate both gas and power prices.”

WSI, which provides customized weather information to energy traders, will issue its next seasonal outlook (for the February-May period) on January 26.

About WSI Corporation

WSI Corporation is the world's leading provider of weather-driven business solutions for professionals in the energy, agriculture, insurance, 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 Corporation

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 visit www.esai.com .