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Temperature Rollercoaster Ahead For Northeast, Forecaster Says

Average temperatures across the Northeast will be warmer than normal next month, then slide below normal in October before rebounding higher across much of the region again in November, according to forecasters at Weather Services International (WSI).

"August has been another relatively cool month across most of the central and eastern U.S., although we are currently in the midst of what we think will be a brief warmer period as we approach the end of the month," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford.

"As Labor Day approaches, it appears that the sub-seasonal weather drivers will cycle around so that cooler-than-normal temperatures are favored again, especially across the north-central US. Further, the various models that we use suggest that this will be the general pattern for much of the fall, with the central US at greatest risk for below-normal temperatures."

Warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected to dominate all of the United States except the North Central area in September, according to WSI's latest seasonal forecast. Those temperatures should moderate late summer demand, helping natural gas storage inventories close what has been a deficit compared to 2013 levels, according to Paul Flemming, director of power and gas at Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI).

On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a build of 88 Bcf for the week ending Aug. 15, well above last year's 58 Bcf and a five-year average of 48 Bcf (see Daily GPIAug. 21). Inventories now stand at 2,555 Bcf and are 500 Bcf less than last year and 535 Bcf below the five-year average. EIA has estimated that working stocks at the end of October will reach only 3.43 Tcf, 380 Bcf lower than at the same time last year (see Daily GPI, July 9). ESAI has forecast North America inventory levels will finish the injection season above 3,700 Bcf (see Daily GPIJuly 21).

WSI expects the Northeast, South Central and Southwest (except California) to average cooler than normal in October, with warmer-than-normal temperatures to dominate the rest of the country.

"With low seasonal demand, natural-gas prices in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region will be soft relative to Henry Hub," Flemming said. "Lower demand from the power sector and negligible demand from heating should allow further builds in natural gas inventories, further reducing the deficit to last year’s level."

By November, cooler-than-normal temperatures will be in place over the central United States, while the West and almost all of the East -- including major cities in the Northeast -- can expect warmer-than-normal temperatures, WSI said.

"In November, mild temperatures in the Northeast will dampen early-season heating demand for natural gas and will moderate power prices as generator maintenance continues throughout the month in most regions," Flemming said. "Some early-season gas demand for heating in the cooler Midwest regions could offset lower demand in the Northeast but the northern portions of the Midwest are projected to be warmer than normal. The generally warmer pattern across the northern tier of the country in November may help to close any remaining natural-gas inventory deficit to last year."

As for the upcoming winter months, Crawford said "early indications suggest that a colder winter is favored across much of the central and eastern U.S.," but cautioned that much of the data needed to make a successful winter forecast is not yet available.

The Farmers' Almanac has said it expects a "super-cold" winter for the eastern United States this year (see Daily GPI,Aug. 22). The West will average warmer than normal, according to the Farmers' Almanac forecast. 

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