Harsh winter freezes could propel natural gas across large swaths of the northern United States this winter, while unrelenting drought conditions in the West could result in weaker hydropower and drive more gas demand for cooling in California and the Southwest next spring when temperatures rise.

Across most of the southern United States, however, winter temperatures are forecast to be above normal, leaving conditions mild and demand for natural gas to heat homes relatively soft.

Such were the key themes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) winter weather outlook, issued Thursday. The outlook from NOAA, a division of the National Weather Service, covers December through February.

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