While warmer-than-normal temperatures will dominate the Northeast for the next two months, the region could experience much colder weather in December, according to forecaster WSI Corp. of Andover, MA. The company said a recurrence of La Nina conditions — cooling ocean surface temperatures off the western coast of South America — could lead to “a very cold winter” for much of the country.

“The relatively cold subsurface ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, along with recent trends in tropical Pacific surface ocean temperatures, now suggest that a return to at least weak La Nina conditions is likely later this fall,” said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. “The current climate signals suggest a warm October/November across the Northeast quarter of the U.S., followed by a sharply colder December. Assuming that the La Nina event does emerge, there are many similarities to the year 2000, which was a very cold winter over much of the U.S. At the current time, we feel that the most significant cold weather will occur in the north-central U.S. this winter, although the Northeast will likely be cold for at least the first half of winter as well.”

In its Energycast Outlook for October WSI forecast warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Northeast, North Central and Southwest (except California) regions, with cooler than normal air over the Southeast, South Central and Northwest areas.

Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) said injections to gas storage in October are likely to be above normal as warmer temperatures in the key heating regions of the Northeast and Upper Midwest delay the need for heating. Planned generator maintenance programs will have a greater influence on power prices than any fluctuations in load, due to shoulder season temperature variations, according to ESAI.

Warmer-than-normal temperatures will remain in place over the same regions in November and also move into the South Central region, WSI said. Early season heating demand for natural gas should be slightly below average in November due to warmer temperature expectations across the northern tier of the country, according to ESAI. Power prices in most regions will tend to be related to generator planned maintenance programs through late November, although early season cold later in the month — prior to the completion of maintenance — could be bullish for power prices.

By December colder-than-normal temperatures will move into the Northeast, North Central and Southwest regions and remain in place in the Northwest; warmer-than-normal air will dominate in the Southeast and South Central U.S., according to WSI. The cooling trend in the key heating regions across the country’s northern tier is likely to be bullish for natural gas demand and prices, ESAI said.

The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year norm (1971-2000). The next forecast, for November-January, is scheduled to be issued Oct. 14.

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