WSI: Cold Likely to Linger, but Lose Intensity Heading into Spring

Below-Normal Temperatures to Persist in Northern and Central US


ANDOVER, Mass. (February 23, 2015) — WSI (Weather Services International) has issued their latest forecast for the March-May period. The forecast indicates below-normal temperatures across southern and eastern sections, with continued above-normal temperatures expected in the western and parts of the northern US. The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal (1981-2010).

According to WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford, “The pattern that drove the brutal cold across much of the eastern US in February will retrogress a bit as we head into early March, allowing the worst of the cold to shift westward to the northern Plains. This will allow more seasonable temperatures to re-emerge across much of the eastern US. Meanwhile, the weak El Nino event that impacted the pattern earlier this winter has faded, but will likely quickly be replaced by a new, stronger event as we head deeper into 2015. The return of El Nino conditions, combined with an expected lack of summer blocking and relatively cool Atlantic Ocean temperatures, will likely reduce the chances for big summer heat again across much of the eastern two-thirds of the US.”

In March, WSI sees the monthly breakdown as:
Northeast – Colder than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal
North Central – Colder than normal
South Central – Colder than normal
Northwest – Warmer than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

According to Chris Kostas, Senior Power and Gas Analyst at ESAI Power LLC, “Natural gas prices should find support in March considering colder-than-normal temperatures are expected to linger through the end of the month in the eastern two-thirds of the country. While exceptional gains in shale-gas production combined with mild temperatures during the first half of winter will push gas prices lower, above-normal heating demand in February and March should help to stabilize and firm gas prices during the second half of the winter. Mild temperatures in the West in March should partially offset the increased energy demand of the East, although with most heating demand east of the Rockies (due to colder seasonal temperatures and larger population) the offset associated with mild western temperatures should be minimal. Mild western temperatures have kept western snowpack well below-normal this winter, which will reduce hydroelectric supplies later this year. We expect natural gas inventories will finish the withdrawal season near 1,600 Bcf, just below the 5-year average of 1,650 Bcf.”

In April, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Cooler than normal
Southeast – Cooler than normal
North Central – Warmer than normal
South Central – Cooler than normal
Northwest – Warmer than normal
Southwest – Warmer than normal

Kostas added: “Weather-related energy demand is typically very soft in April as heating demand begins to fade from the Northeast and cooling demand remains minimal in the South and West. As such, the cooler-than-normal temperatures expected in the Northeast won’t have a significant price impact on power or gas prices in PJM, New York, or New England. The warmer-than-normal temperatures expected in the West should keep electrical loads slightly firmer-than-normal in that region, although loads are not expected to be firm enough to result in significant impacts on implied market heat-rates. Reduced hydroelectric supplies related to below-normal snowpack in the Northwest this winter could help to support western power prices slightly as electrical loads begin to increase, however. Nuclear outages and generator maintenance throughout the country will also help to support implied market heat-rates in April.”

In May, WSI forecasts:
Northeast – Warmer than normal
Southeast – Warmer than normal
North Central – Warmer than normal
South Central – Cooler than normal
Northwest – Warmer than normal
Southwest – Cooler than normal

Kostas noted: “While natural gas prices are expected to be relatively soft in May (due to the year-over-year increase in natural gas production), warmer-than-normal temperatures over most of the country should help to firm implied market heat-rates as electrical loads begin to increase later in the month. Generator maintenance will continue to influence power prices and implied market heat-rates by reducing available baseload generation. Coal-fired generator retirements, related to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), should begin to affect power prices and implied market heat-rates in May. With coal-fired generation typically offline due to maintenance during the first half of the month, however, the retirement of coal-fired generators in May shouldn’t have a significant impact. The full extent of the MATS retirements won’t be felt until electrical loads begin to increase this summer.”

WSI provides customized weather information to global commodity traders via its industry-leading WSI Trader Web site. WSI will issue its next seasonal outlook, including the first look at summer, on March 20. 

About WSI Corporation
WSI is the world's leading provider of weather-driven business solutions for professionals in the aviation, energy and media markets, as well as multiple federal and state government agencies. WSI is the Professional Division of The Weather Company and is headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts with offices in Madison, Wisconsin and Birmingham, England. The Weather Company is 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:
Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek
(978) 983-6637
mbb@wsi.com

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