July natural gas prices were set to open sharply higher at $2.948, up 5.8 cents, as the latest weather models indicated a ridge that was expected to dissipate now likely to saturate the middle of the country through the early part of the third week of June.

As for details, cooler weather was pushed off again in recent weather models runs to around June 20-21, with risks of a weak trough across the Midwest lingering into the long range as well, according to Bespoke Weather Services.

Medium-range forecasts, however, indicate widespread heat across the country through the middle of next week, “though cooler weather across parts of the Gulf/South Coast will limit just how elevated cooling demand is able to get,” Bespoke chief meteorologist Jacob Meisel said. “The hotter trends we had been watching came sooner rather than later,” and although forecasts for week three do have some cool risks, it is unlikely that they cool much more than what is current showing up in models.

July prices climbed as high as $2.951 before the open as traders are no doubt factoring in the hotter medium-range trends and their impact on storage. “The entire strip is rallying this morning, an indication that $2.97-3.00 resistance is in play of these hotter trends,” Meisel said.

In fact, the strip overall is supportive, with prompt month isolation rather limited. That being said, to close out last week, the market continued to see power burns loosen on a daily basis and Bespoke is unimpressed by an expectation of 90 Bcf this coming Thursday when the Energy Information Administration releases its weekly storage report.

“While the strip and weather are clearly more supportive (with weekend weather trends fitting our gas-weighted degree days expectations almost perfectly), we would need to see evidence of tightening to expect prices to cleanly break above $3,” Meisel said. Until that becomes clear, any move into resistance is likely a strong short opportunity with weather guidance not quite impressive enough to fully break prices much higher.

EBW Analytics’ Andy Weissman said the July contract could remain elevated this week since many traders focus only on shifts in the color of the weather map, without recalibrating demand. He noted that the hottest weather in the next couple of weeks is concentrated in a region that relies primarily on coal, and therefore, “the impact on natural gas demand will be modest.” If more seasonal weather returns in July, however, futures are still likely to fade this summer.

Production recovered from last week’s low point of 77.8 Bcf/d to a high of just above 79 Bcf/d this past weekend, according to Genscape Inc. Production group data showed Monday’s volumes estimated near 78.3 Bcf/d, lower against the weekend, primarily due to a 0.4 Bcf/d drop in output from Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s Lancaster Plant on the Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG) system in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. It is unclear the cause of the outage as no notices have been posted early Monday by CIG or Anadarko.

July crude oil futures were set to open Monday morning about 62 cents lower at $65.12/bbl, while July RBOB gasoline was trading 2.2 cents lower at $2.093/gal.