Despite recent unseasonably mild weather and a forecast of a warmer-than-normal April for portions of the East, colder-than-normal temperatures are expected to dominate much of the region in May and June, according to the latest seasonal forecast from Andover, MA-based WSI Corp.

The April-June period will also average cooler than normal in the Southeast, while warmer temperatures will be in place across much of the western and northern United States, especially in April, WSI said. Looking further ahead, WSI said much of the central and northern United States is likely to see a relatively cool summer.

“A slow transition out of the extreme weather patterns observed during the winter will continue as we head into April,” said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. “The relaxation of the pattern will allow for more widespread warmth across the western and northern U.S. during April and May. However, we expect a return to more expansive below-normal temperatures across the north by June. Though April and May will likely experience above-normal temperatures on the whole, a lack of any significant drought across the central and eastern U.S. will limit the magnitude and number of early-season heat events.”

WSI is forecasting 587 gas-weighted heating degree days for the April-June period, approximately 3% more than in the same three-month period last year and about 3% fewer than the 1971-2000 average.

Colder-than-normal temperatures will dominate the Southeast and South Central United States in April, with warmer-than-normal temperatures in place across the rest of the country, WSI said. By May, colder-than-normal temperatures will move into the Northeast, while the South Central region will turn warmer than normal and the Northwest is forecast to experience much-warmer-than-normal temperatures.

“In May gas demand shifts to early-season cooling, which may be significant in the western regions but less of a factor in the East,” Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) director of power and gas Paul Flemming said in a statement issued in conjunction with WSI’s outlook. “Cooler temperatures in the east will dampen electric loads, but generator maintenance schedules will continue to provide a bullish underpinning to gas demand due to nuclear and coal outages.”

In June the Northeast will remain colder than normal and colder-than-normal temperatures will move into the North Central area, but the rest of the country can expect warmer-than-normal temperatures, WSI said. Portions of the western United States will see significantly warmer-than-normal temperatures in June, according to the forecast.

“Gas demand for cooling will likely be strong in the western regions, but this will be offset by much cooler temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest,” Flemming said. “Early-season heat events are likely in the West, but much less likely in the congested Northeast markets due to cooler temperatures.”

The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year norm (1971-2000). The next WSI forecast, for the May-July period, is scheduled to be issued April 20.

WSI has said it expects the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1, to be more active than last year’s and predicted that 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, with three of them intense (Category Three or greater) will form this year (see Daily GPI, Jan. 27). WSI’s forecast numbers fall between the 1950-2009 average of 10 named storms, six hurricanes and three intense hurricanes and the 1995-2009 average of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and four intense hurricanes.

The consensus forecast is for a more active hurricane season this year. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center also predicted an active Atlantic hurricane season based on a faltering El Nino (see Daily GPI, Feb. 8), (see Daily GPI, March 11) and Colorado State University (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2009) have all said they expect more tropical storm activity in the Atlantic this year than in 2009.

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