Natural gas bulls were likely salivating this week as MDA EarthSat Energy Weather announced nothing but supportive price news for summer 2007. The Rockville, MD-based forecasting firm said it expects this summer to be “warmer than normal,” adding that it also expects an “active” Atlantic hurricane season with the Gulf of Mexico and its land borders under increased threat.

Presenting at the MDA EarthSat/PIRA conference Monday in New York City, the company said its updated summer and tropical season outlook was derived via a consensus of the group’s 17 in-house meteorologists.

MDA EarthSat said the June-to-August outlook is 10% warmer than the 30-year norm (1971-2000) and 5% cooler than last summer on a national population-weighted basis. Warmer-than-normal overall summer temperatures are forecast for the Midwest, South and East Coast areas this coming summer, while seasonal to cooler-than-normal temperatures are forecast for the West.

MDA EarthSat Deputy Director Matt Rogers noted that the cooler West is certainly an unusual forecast. “Most of our forecasters aimed this summer in the direction of a developing La Nina. If that La Nina does not evolve in the next one to two months, then the West would have a better chance of verifying closer to the long-term trends of warmer conditions and the East could yet be cooler,” Rogers said.

As for its hurricane outlook, the forecasting firm said it believes that the combination of El Nino’s demise, the La Nina potential, and warmer-than-normal Atlantic waters should favor an active season more like 2004 and less like 2006. The official forecast calls for a total of 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and four intense (Category 3 or stronger) storms. “With a warm eastern U.S. favored, the door would be open at times for storms to make their way into the Gulf of Mexico, but forecast skill is low on long-term tracking potential,” said Rogers.

Forecasters appear to all be in agreement with regard to predictions of an active Atlantic hurricane season (see Daily GPI, April 16). Upping its December prediction, the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team said in April that the U.S. Atlantic Basin will likely experience a very active hurricane season in 2007 with an increased probability of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall (see Daily GPI, April 4). The news surprised many within the energy industry who had expected that the team’s April forecast would simply be a rehash of its December 2006 outlook (see Daily GPI, March 29). The CSU team’s forecast now anticipates 17 named storms forming in the Atlantic Basin between June 1 and Nov. 30, with nine of the 17 storms expected to become hurricanes, and of those nine, five are expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

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