February natural gas was set to open Tuesday about 5 cents higher at around $2.882 as forecasters were pointing to colder changes overnight in a pattern set to arrive next week.

“Slightly colder trends in the overnight data for Jan. 14-17 as several cold blasts sweep into the east central U.S., but still with a rather mild period Jan. 18-22 as strong upper high pressure follows,” said NatGasWeather.com in a morning note to clients.

“What remains most important is just how long this eastern U.S. ridge lasts. We expect colder weather systems to arrive into the central U.S. out of the West around Jan. 23-24, but then with uncertainty if the ridge over the East will weaken enough to allow cold to push in.”

Recent data has been mixed, with “some solutions showing the ridge will weaken (bullish) and some showing it will hold strong (bearish),” the firm said.

Of the cold arriving late this weekend (Jan. 14), Bespoke Weather Services said the changes were not enough “for us to expect the natural gas market to significantly break out, and guidance does remain mixed on how much cold risk gradually makes it back into the forecast for the final week or so of January.

“…We see enough medium-term cold and just enough long-term cold risk to combine with speculation around the Thursday Energy Information Administration (EIA) announcement and keep prices bid,” Bespoke said. “$2.92 resistance has already been tested and held…but just enough heating demand may have been added for prices to break through that and try and test $2.98.”

Estimates have been suggesting EIA could report a potential record-setting 300 Bcf-plus storage withdrawal for the week ending Jan. 5. The Desk’s Early View survey released late last week showed on average estimates for a 329.7 Bcf withdrawal.

Following the brutal cold that arrived around Christmas Day and stuck around well past Jan. 1, Genscape Inc. said Tuesday its “preliminary composite estimates for the EIA week ending Jan.5 storage report are calling for a withdrawal of 353 Bcf.

“Our formal estimate is a composite of our daily supply and demand (S&D) and pipeline storage facility sample,” the firm said. “Our S&D model is showing implied storage activity of -345 Bcf, based on a demand estimate totaling 826 Bcf for the week at the same time nearly 20 Bcf of production was restricted to freeze-offs.”

February crude oil was set to open about 19 cents higher at around $61.92/bbl, while February RBOB gasoline was up about 1.4 cents to around $1.8056/gal.