WSI Calls for 'Arctic Air' to Penetrate Eastern U.S. in January
While calling for slightly cooler-than-normal temperatures over the next three months in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Gulf Coast states, Billerica, MA-based WSI Corp. looks for warmer-than-normal temperatures elsewhere, with the largest positive temperature anomalies in the Southwest.
WSI's seasonal outlook for the January-March period references a standard 30-year normal (1971-2000).
For January, WSI's data shows cooler-than-normal temperatures are expected in most of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., with coolest temperatures, relative to normal, expected from the Central Plains to the Southeast. The forecast calls for warmer-than-normal temperatures in California, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and northern New England, with the largest positive temperature anomalies expected in the Southwest.
The forecast takes an even wilder turn in February, where WSI predicts that warmer-than-normal temperatures will sweep through a vast majority of the country, with the exception of most of the northern tier of states, where slightly below-normal temperatures are expected. The group noted that warmest temperatures, relative to normal, are again expected in the Southwest.
According to WSI, March will bring warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Rockies westward, as well as the northern and central Plains, Great Lakes, and Ohio Valley, with warmest temperatures, relative to normal, still expected in the Southwest. Colder-than-normal temperatures are expected in the East, Southeast, and Gulf Coast states, with coldest temperatures, relative to normal, expected in the Northeast.
"We expect plenty of Arctic air in the eastern two-thirds of the country in January," said WSI seasonal forecaster Dr. Todd Crawford. "We differ from [the Climate Prediction Center] strongly in our cold Northern Plains forecast, where they predict above-normal temperatures. We also expect the January-March period to average colder-than-normal in the Northeast, while CPC is predicting equal chances of above- and below-normal temperatures."
Noting that WSI's forecast indicates colder-than normal temperatures in most of the eastern U.S. in January, consultants with Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) believe that the colder weather across most of the major gas-consuming regions will be bullish for natural gas prices during the month. However, offsetting the bullish January consumption, is the warmer-than-normal outlook for February in all but a few extreme northern locations. ESAI said it expects the January to February change will temper January price increases.
In March, ESAI believes that the warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Plains and Midwestern states will offset higher consumption in the colder than normal Eastern states. "Most important for prices will be the likelihood of ample inventories in March as a result of the early season buildup and warmer temperatures in December and February, the group said in conjunction with WSI's forecast release. "The outlook for adequate end-season inventories will dampen price volatility and should prove bearish for prices, particularly during February."
ESAI added that power prices will be closely linked to gas in the Eastern states and thus should be moderated by the lessened potential for extended gas price spikes.