November natural gas is set to open 2 cents lower Thursday morning at $3.19 as traders expect storage data to show a greater increase than popular surveys. Overnight oil markets were narrowly mixed.

The 10:30 a.m. EDT release of storage data could very well show the largest build of the year, but even then it is likely to fall short of historical averages. Last year 97 Bcf was injected and the five-year pace stands at 92 Bcf. This week estimates are pushing up against 90 Bcf. IAF Advisors is looking for a build of 87 Bcf, and PIRA Energy calculates an injection of 94 Bcf. A Reuters survey of 22 traders revealed an average 87 Bcf with a range of 79 to 95 Bcf.

Industry consultant Bentek Energy calculates an 89 Bcf increase using its flow model and said, “The injection is very likely to be the largest of the calendar year to date, surpassing the 82 Bcf injection for the week ending May 27, and could be the largest injection of the year given the current supply and demand daily outlook for the coming storage weeks. Week-over-week, the South Central region is expected to account for the majority of the gain in injection strength at a forecast 33 Bcf injection compared to the previous week’s 20 Bcf injection.”

Alan Harry, director of trading at McNamara Options in New York, expects a 90 Bcf increase with a commensurate decline in November futures.

Weather forecasters are throwing out the idea that expected stormy weather in the Pacific Northwest this week might be an indication of longer-term things to come. “At least three potent storms will blast the northwestern United States from the latter part of this week to the early part of next week,” said meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

“The storms could be an early sign of a La Nina-like pattern for the winter ahead. La Nina is a pattern noted by a zone of cooler-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Depending on the strength and extent of this cool puddle, weather patterns across much of the globe can be affected.

“The series of storms will bring heavy rain, high country snow and high winds to portions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northern California and western Montana, as well as neighboring British Columbia into next week,” meteorologists said.

In overnight Globex trading November crude oil fell 7 cents to $50.11/bbl and November RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.4647/gal.