Cooler-than-normal temperatures will remain in place over much of the eastern United States over the next three months, while above-average temperatures will continue to dominate the West, according to a seasonal forecast from WSI Corp. of Andover, MA.

Areas from the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest may be especially warm through October compared to historic temperature norms, according to WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford.

“There is no immediate sign that the very cool pattern in much of the eastern U.S. will abate…looking farther out in time, we expect a brief transition towards above-normal temperatures in September across much of the Northeast,” Crawford said. “By October, the emerging El Nino event and expected change in phase of the Pacific decadal oscillation both argue strongly for a cold month across much of the eastern U.S. There are no strong signals for any sustained cool weather in the western U.S. during the upcoming period.”

In its Energycast Outlook for August WSI forecast cooler-than-normal temperatures across the East and North-Central regions, with warmer-than-normal temperatures expected to be in place across the rest of the country.

Power-sector demand for natural gas, sparked by warmer temperatures in the Southwest and dry conditions in the Northwest, will be largely offset by the continuing cool weather in the East, according to Paul Fleming, Energy Security Analysis Inc. director of power and gas.

“Barring any significant hurricane activity, power-sector demand for natural gas in August will not reverse the trend of well-above-average [storage] inventory build rates and will result in continued pressure on prices,” Fleming said in a statement issued in conjunction with WSI’s outlook. “For the power markets in the East, the big news is that there will be a reduced likelihood of heat events in August, even after a very mild July.”

In September WSI expects warmer-than-normal temperatures to move into the Northeast and North-Central regions, with cooler-than-normal temperatures to remain in the Southeast. Warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected to continue to dominate the South-Central and West regions, with much-warmer-than-normal temperatures expected in Texas and the Southwest.

“Due to prevailing warmer temperatures in the West, natural gas demand from the power sector should be above average in September, but this higher demand will not likely offset the trend towards very high inventories in early November,” and higher price volatility can be expected in Texas and the Southwest, Flemming said.

By October cooler-than-normal temperatures will have returned to all of the East except Florida, while the West and South-Central regions will continue to experience warmer-than-normal temperatures, according to the WSI forecast. For a second consecutive month, much-warmer-than-normal temperatures will bake Texas and the Southwest, WSI said.

Flemming said shoulder season dynamics should overshadow weather variations in October. Power prices during the month will be supported by generator maintenance, and gas demand from the power sector should be supported by coal plant maintenance and nuclear refueling, Fleming said.

The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year norm (1971-2000). The next forecast, for September-November, is scheduled to be issued Aug. 26.

The seasonal outlook follows WSI’s reduction of the number of hurricanes it expects to form during the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season (see Daily GPI, July 21).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures were at least one degree Centigrade above average at the end of June, signaling the arrival of a new El Nino event (see Daily GPI, July 10). In addition to suppressing Atlantic hurricane formation, El Nino events can increase storminess across the South, produce winter storms in California and the Southwest, and create less wintry weather across the North. El Nino’s impacts depend on a variety of factors, including intensity and extent of ocean warming, NOAA said.

Cooler-than-normal weather in the Northeast this summer could be a hint that a cold, snowy winter is in store for an area stretching from Boston to Washington, DC, according to Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi (see Daily GPI, July 16). Like WSI, Bastardi said he expects a period of more typical summer heat in the Northeast to be followed by a return of cooler weather to the region. Bastardi also said late-summer heat and humidity will prevail across the Southeast for much of the rest of the summer, and the hot weather that has gripped Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana will remain, though the heat should be less extreme.

Taking into account its own forecast of mild summer weather, Barclays Capital recently said it expects just a 0.1 Bcf/d uptick in natural gas demand for power generation during May-September compared with the same period last year (see Daily GPI, June 4).

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