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Spring, Summer Temperatures A Mixed Bag, WSI Says

Cooler-than-normal temperatures in the Northwest and Pacific Coast and warmer-than-normal weather across the rest of the country over the next three months are likely to be followed by above-normal temperatures in the East and slightly below-normal temperatures in the West this summer, according to forecaster WSI Corp. of Andover, MA.

A continuing La Nina event -- cooling ocean surface temperatures off the western coast of South America, which have been found to disrupt normal weather patterns in the United States -- is still affecting North American temperatures, according to WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford.

"The impacts of the ongoing, strong La Nina event will likely result in a warm spring across most of the southern U.S., with a warm April followed by a cool May across the North," Crawford said. "As we approach summer, it appears that the southern warmth will expand eastward and northward. Current indications are that summer will be warmer than normal in the eastern U.S., with cooler-than-normal temperatures confined to the western U.S."

In its Energycast Outlook for April, WSI forecasts warmer-than-normal temperatures across all of the country except in Maine and California. Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) said the warmer temperatures should provide for lower natural gas demand than would normally be expected during the last two to three weeks of the heating season. Seasonal demand in April is already low, the impact on supply and market price is diminished, and electric loads will reflect normal shoulder season demand, ESAI said. April prices will be influenced more by planned maintenance schedules than by changes in the temperature expectations.

WSI looks for warmer-than-normal weather to remain dominant across most of the nation's southern tier of states in May, while cooler-than-normal air will take over the northern tier and California. ESAI said low seasonal natural gas demand will be offset by increased demand from the power sector due to increased operation of gas plants during scheduled nuclear and coal plant outages. Electric loads will reflect shoulder season demand, ESAI said, but prices will be influenced mostly by the higher costs of dispatch during planned maintenance schedules.

The WSI forecast for June calls for warmer-than-normal temperatures in the East and Southwest -- except in California -- and cooler-than-normal temperatures across the rest of the country except Texas and Washington. Generally cooler weather will dampen gas demand from the power sector and should lead to higher-than-average natural gas injections to storage. The generally cooler outlook lessens the probability of early season heat events except in New York and New England, according to ESAI.

WSI said early indications are that above-normal temperatures will be dominant across the eastern U.S. this summer, with near to slightly below-normal temperatures in the West.

The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year norm (1971-2000). The next forecast package, for May-July, and an official summer forecast are scheduled to be issued April 16.

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