Cash natural gas on average added 14 cents Monday as a late-winter storm carrying high winds ripped through the Midwest and Plains, making travel difficult and prompting double-digit gains at virtually all pricing points.

Only a handful of eastern points failed to participate in the broad upsurge, and if a few nominally impacted Northeast points on Algonquin, Iroquois, Tennessee and Transco are factored in, the average gain on the day drops to a dime. March options expired, but not before underlying March futures added 12.3 cents to $3.414 and April gained 12.1 cents to $3.470. March futures expire Tuesday. April crude oil eased 2 cents to $93.11/bbl.

A California trader said much of the gains at West Coast points were driven by pricing responses in the outlying producing basins. “We aren’t seeing much of an increase in loads, and it looks like what’s going on in Canada, the San Juan and Rocky Mountain basins is driving prices. It’s bid week and nobody is doing anything unusual. Everyone is just covering obligations.”

At Malin, quotes for Tuesday gas came in 13 cents higher at $3.51, and at PG&E Citygate next-day deliveries were up 13 cents at $3.72. At Socal Citygate, gas was seen 11 cents higher at $3.71, and at SoCal Border points, parcels for Tuesday were 14 cents higher at $3.62. Deliveries on El Paso S Mainline rose 12 cents to $3.70.

Gas buyers in the Midwest pushed prices up well over a dime as major metropolitan areas were in the crosshairs of a storm marching in from the Southwest. “The storm spreading blizzard conditions from northwestern Texas to northern Missouri and southern Iowa to start the week will target a swath of the Midwest Tuesday with disruptive heavy snow or a wintry mix,” said meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“In a number of areas, the storm will start with rain or a wintry mix Tuesday, but a transition to snow is forecast by meteorologists from west to east spanning Tuesday night and Wednesday in some areas north of the Ohio River. Nasty travel is in store along much of the I-90 and I-94 corridors from northern Illinois to Michigan Tuesday into Wednesday. Most of the storm will be snow in this swath. The storm will pack a several-hour period with windswept heavy snow and low visibility in this area. Road conditions most of the time will be snow covered to slushy with icy spots. Blowing and drifting snow will also be a problem in this area,” said Sosnowski. forecast that temperatures throughout the area were expected to dip just a few degrees below normal, but if wind chill is factored in, temperatures run about 25 to 30 degrees below normal. Chicago’s high of 43 Monday was forecast to fall to 36 Tuesday and 37 Wednesday, but wind chill dropped the readings down to as low as 12 degrees Tuesday. The normal high in Chicago is 39.

Detroit’s Monday high of 39 was expected to fall to 37 Tuesday and Wednesday, but wind chill was forecast to bring those highs down to as low as 19 Tuesday. The seasonal high in Detroit is 38. In Indianapolis, the Monday high of 44 was expected to ease to 42 on Tuesday, but adjusted for wind chill that falls to 17. The normal high in Indianapolis is 43.

Gas at the Chicago Citygate for Tuesday delivery rose 18 cents to $3.60, and deliveries on Alliance gained 17 cents to $3.58. Quotes on Northern Natural Gas Ventura rose 14 cents to $3.53. On Michcon Tuesday packages were seen at $3.61, 16 cents higher, and on Consumers next-day gas rose 18 cents to $3.61.

Prices in the normally volatile Northeast were mixed as temperatures were forecast to stay at seasonal highs. Boston’s high Monday of 40 was predicted to rise to 42 Tuesday with no wind chill, 1 degree above normal. The Monday high in New York City of 45 was anticipated to rise to 46 Tuesday also without a wind chill, 2 degrees above its seasonal norm.

Gas for delivery Tuesday to Algonquin Citygate fell 5 cents to $6.20, and on Iroquois Waddington Tuesday deliveries rose nine cents to $3.91. Gas on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L added 6 cents to $6.20.

Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 fell 14 cents to $3.90, and parcels on Dominion added about 17 cents to $3.48. On Tetco M-3 next-day gas rose 17 cents to $3.72.

Futures traders attributed the day’s gains to weather forecasts. “If you look at the six- to 10-day it looks like the weather is going to stick around for a while,” said John Woods of J. J. Woods and Associates in New York. “It’s pretty temperate right here so I think that will moderate any rally. We’ll get a better picture on Wednesday, but I can’t see this thing going above $3.52.”

Longer-term weather forecasts turned colder over the weekend, and blocking patterns showed no signs of breaking down anytime soon. MDA Weather Services in its 11- to 15-day outlook shows an expanded ridge of below-normal temperatures extending from Florida to Alberta and central Pennsylvania to West Texas.

“This period has held onto much more cold than anticipated as it now appears the blocking will be hesitant to break down a great deal. The AO [Arctic Oscillation] will remain well within its negative phase per all of the major models, and while the NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation] may gradually head towards neutral during the six-15 day period, expanding ridging in the Northeast Pacific [trends towards a -EPO (Eastern Pacific Oscillation)] at the same time will continue to favor a cold outcome over the U.S. Increased storm-based variability should come into play across the southern tier, limiting the intensity of the cold as compared to the prior period. Confidence is low to moderate.”

Mike DeVooght of DEVO Capital, a Colorado-based trading and risk management firm, is looking for a spot to sell an otherwise range-bound market. “Fundamentally, not much has changed in the gas market. We do feel the highest probability is for the gas market to continue to trade in the $3-4 range over the next few months,” he said in a weekend letter to clients.

DeVooght is looking for rallies above $3.60 and specifically “work to sell any summer months above $3.75-3.95 (light position).” Trading accounts and end-users are advised to stand aside the market.

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone in Miami, in his work with Market Profile looks for the market to test last week’s value area at $3.242 to $3.286. He expects the market to “eventually” test a subsequent value area at $3.481 to $3.589.

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