Seasonal Outlook: The Weather Company Expects Continued Colder-than-Normal North U.S., While Warmth/Dryness Persists across South

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ANDOVER, Mass. (December 19, 2017) — In its latest U.S. seasonal forecast for the January-March period, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, slightly below-normal temperatures across most of the North and warmer-than-normal temperatures for most of the southern half of the country, especially the Southwest, Texas, and the southern Rockies. (The Weather Company seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal [1981-2010].)

December has been a wildly volatile month, but cold will settle into the northern U.S. for much of the last half of the month,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company. “The colder weather in the Northeast is not surprising in December during La Nina events. The difficult forecast question is how fast the focus of the cold shifts westward from the Northeast to the Northwest by the end of winter into early spring. We expect volatility to continue to be the name of the game in January, with the coldest air gradually settling into the north-central states and continued warmth and dryness across most of the southern U.S.”

January

  • Northeast – Colder than normal west, warmer than normal for the I-95 corridor
  • Southeast – Warmer than normal
  • North Central – Colder than normal
  • South Central – Warmer than normal
  • Northwest – Warmer than normal coast, colder than normal east
  • Southwest – Warmer than normal

“With the Lower 48 divided when it comes to the winter outlook, it will not bode well for upside to the overall natural gas market in January,” said Jeff Richter, principal at EnergyGPS. “This is evident by the big push down on the winter strip through the first couple weeks of December, so widespread cold air is needed in January to keep pace with the incremental supply on the grid.”

February

  • Northeast – Warmer than normal
  • Southeast – Warmer than normal
  • North Central – Colder than normal
  • South Central – Warmer than normal
  • Northwest – Colder than normal
  • Southwest – Warmer than normal

According to Richter, “Any warmer-than-normal temperatures will keep downward pressure on the remaining portion of the winter 2018 strip by February, and four of the six regions are expected to be relatively warm. If this sticks, the excess supply will have to be eaten up by stimulated demand such as power burns. When this is the case, we have to go to specific price levels that turn on natural gas-fired generation and displace the coal units on economically. The issue with this is when the coal is on for reliability and/or winter assessment.”

March

  • Northeast – Warmer than normal
  • Southeast – Warmer than normal
  • North Central – Colder than normal
  • South Central – Warmer than normal
  • Northwest – Colder than normal
  • Southwest – Warmer than normal

“For March, the expected warmth in the Northeast, South Central, and Southeast will continue to pressure prices,” said Richter. “The Northwest is a place to keep an eye on as the combination of colder-than-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation keeps the water year volatile. We will need to focus on renewable capacities in the West, SPP, and ERCOT, as the latter two continue to increase without specific standards in place. California has its Renewable Procurement Standard.”

The Weather Company provides customized weather information to global commodity traders via its industry-leading WSI Trader website. The Weather Company will issue its next seasonal outlook on January 23.

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