The coming summer will be warmer than normal across most of the United States, but still "a reprieve from the big heat of the last three summers," according to forecasters at Weather Services International (WSI).

The Northeast and West will average warmer than normal through August, while most of the Southeast is expected to remain cooler than normal throughout the summer, WSI said.

"After three very hot summers in the central and eastern U.S., it appears that the summer of 2013 will be a bit more merciful," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford. "Significant changes in North Pacific ocean temperatures and the drought signal suggest that the biggest heat will be focused in the western U.S. this year, allowing for more seasonal temperatures across the central and eastern U.S.

"Although we do not expect either an El Nino or a La Nina event to develop this summer, tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures are generally warmer than they were during the very hot summers of 2010 and 2011. Warmer temperatures in this region typically produce atmospheric patterns more conducive for cooler summer temperatures in the eastern/central U.S. Further, the particularly large warm pool of water in the Northeast Pacific is also typically associated with cooler summers." Also adding to the likelihood of a summer cooler than the last few are heavy early spring rains, which have dampened drought concerns across portions of the western United States, and persistent trends in recent climate model forecasts, Crawford said.

"Our final analysis suggests that this summer will not be as hot as the previous three but will still be characterized by widespread areas of above-normal temperatures, especially across the southern and western U.S."

Temperatures in the Southeast will average cooler than normal in June, but the rest of the country is expected to be warmer than normal, according to WSI's seasonal outlook.

"Cooler-than-normal June temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic region should allow the Consuming East an opportunity to catch up on natural gas inventories," said Energy Securities Analysis Inc. Senior Analyst Chris Kostas. "...Milder temperatures in the Consuming East this summer should help gas inventories decrease the year-over-year inventory deficit without pushing natural gas prices significantly higher. Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the West and cooler-than-normal temperatures in the East should act to strengthen Western gas basis prices relative to Eastern gas basis prices.

"While overall higher natural gas basis prices and warmer-than-normal June temperatures are expected to support power prices throughout much of the country, implied market heat-rates should run softer than last year in most regions due to higher year-over-year coal-fired generation. Coal-fired generators will find many more profitable hours due to higher gas prices and should be able to run at considerably higher capacity factors this June compared to June 2012."

The North Central and Southeast (except Florida) are expected to be cooler than normal in July, but the rest of WSI's temperature forecast map remains unchanged for the month.

"In New England, natural gas basis prices are expected to be relatively firm until the Deep Panuke off-shore platform begins production (i.e., mid-summer)," Kostas said. "Warmer-than-normal temperatures in New York City and PJM-East should help to support congestion pricing in those regions, though with the recent firmness in gas prices implied market heat-rates should run considerably lower than last year's levels."

The North Central region slips back into the warmer-than-normal column in August, while the South Central (except West Texas) moves over to the cooler-than-normal column, WSI said.

WSI, based in Andover, MA, said it will issue its next seasonal outlook on June 25.

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