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AccuWeather: Cold Wave to Hit U.S. in Mid-January

So far, it looks like another mild winter is underway, but that is likely to change in a couple of weeks. A sudden warming of the stratosphere -- six to 30 miles above the ground -- in the North Pole is going to push cold air southward, according to AccuWeather.com.

The cold wave, expected to begin in 10 to 14 days, could give natural gas prices a boost as consumers heat their homes. Storms are possible as well. "As the waves of cold air spread to the south and east, some energy may be released in the form of a series of storms riding the cold air," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston.

The cold air could arrive all at once, but it is more likely to arrive in a series of progressively colder waves moving farther southward and eastward. The initial cold wave is predicted to strike the Northwest, northern Rockies and northern Plains. Later in January, the Southwest, Gulf Coast and Appalachian regions are expected to experience the cold wave, followed by the Atlantic Seaboard.

Few parts of the U.S. will be spared. "While a zone of high pressure off the southern Atlantic Coast will offer some resistance to the cold initially in the East, most of the time in situations like this, cold air finishes the job and reaches the Atlantic Seaboard," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg.

AccuWeather predicts continued warm temperatures during the week due to an inflow of warmer Pacific air. During a Jan. 3 conference call, Jan Stuart, head of energy commodities research at Credit Suisse, predicted temporary weakness in natural gas prices due to mild winter weather (see related story).

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