While it appears the Southeast is likely to come out of its freeze shortly, New England, the Northern Rockies and Plains are expected to remain cold for the foreseeable future, according to Billerica, MA-based WSI Corp.’s latest seasonal outlook, which covers the February to April period.

For the period, company said it expects cooler-than-normal temperatures in most of the western half of the country along with New England, while warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected in the rest of the eastern half of the country, along with the Southwest.

On the monthly breakdown, WSI said February should bring warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of the East, Plains, and Southwest, with cooler-than-normal temperatures in the Northwest, as well as parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast.

Receiving a reprieve from a long cold spell, WSI said most of the East should see warmer-than-normal temperatures in March. The Southern Plains and the Southwest are also expected to be warmer than normal during the month, while colder-than-normal temperatures are expected in the Northwest and New England.

April will be ushered in with cooler-than-normal temperatures expected in the northern half of the U.S., while slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected in the southern half of the U.S.

“Most of the bitter Arctic air will remain in Europe and Asia for much of February, leaving many US locations mild, especially in the Southeast,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, seasonal forecaster for WSI. “Our forecast for the upcoming period is quite different from [the Climate Prediction Center], which depicts cooler-than-normal temperatures in the Southeast and warmer-than-normal temperatures in much of the West.”

Weighing in on WSI’s forecast, Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) said that while warmer-than normal temperatures in most of the eastern U.S. in February and March moderate the situation some, colder-than-normal temperatures in much of the Northeast and upper Midwest will be a bullish factor for natural gas prices.

“Northeast power prices should remain firm on both strong natural gas prices as well as weather-related load factors,” ESAI said in conjunction with the WSI forecast. “Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the Plains and mid-Atlantic states will tend to offset higher gas consumption seen in the northern areas.”

The group noted that temperatures will be less of a factor in April as both the natural gas and power markets shift to shoulder period demand. At this point, ESAI said all attention will be focused on gas inventory levels as the traditional heating season ends toward the end of March. “Current indications are that moderate weather and current stocks will place inventories significantly higher than last year at the end of the heating season,” ESAI said.

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