Much of the eastern United States is poised to experience one of the coldest winters in several years, according to AccuWeather.com Chief Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.
"It may be a shock to some when compared with the above-average temperatures of last year in the East," Bastardi said. "It will put some 'brrrrrr' in the saddle of folks who have not had to deal with such things for a while. In the eastern half of the nation, people will look at the winter as bookends of cold."
In his 2008-2009 Winter Season Forecast, Bastardi calls for a colder and snowier winter, starting with a chilly blast in December -- "perhaps the roughest winter month for much of the nation" -- and another cold spell in late January and February. And he forecast more snowfall than last year across the East.
"The winter as a whole in the population-dense eastern third of the nation will be a one-two punch of higher heating prices and lower temperatures," Bastardi said.
In contrast, the West will see warmer-than-normal temperatures and the Great Plains should have less snow than last year, Bastardi said. His forecast also includes heavier-than-normal snowfall for the northern Rockies and Northwest.
Bastardi's winter weather predictions seemed generally in agreement with those of WSI Corp., which last week said the Northeast can expect much colder weather in December following warmer-than-normal temperatures in October and November (see NGI, Oct. 6).
The combination of colder-than-normal temperatures and rising energy costs could create a second one-two punch for consumers. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last week that average household heating expenditures for the upcoming winter season are expected to be 15% more than last winter, increasing from an estimated $986 spent a year ago to a projected $1,137 (see related story).
Households heating primarily with heating oil, which account for only 7% of U.S. households, can expect to see the biggest jump in winter heating costs, paying an average of $449 more (23% hike). Natural gas-heated households, which make up more than 50% of the households in the nation, will likely pay an average of $155 more this winter (18% higher), the EIA said. The agency said 35% of households that rely on electricity are likely to fork over an average of $89 (10%) more this winter, while propane-heated houses are projected to shell out an average of $188 (11%) more during the 2008-2009 heating season, which runs from Nov. 1 through the end of March.
A round of wintry weather expected to move through the West over the weekend could be a harbinger of things to come, according to AccuWeather.com.
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