August 23, 2016

US Seasonal Outlook: Warmth Continues into Fall but Hints of Cold Winter Emerging

Tropics Now Expected to be Slightly Less Active than Previous Estimates

In its latest seasonal forecast for the September-November period, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is predicting slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures across most of the US, with the exception of the area from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the Great Lakes. (The Weather Company seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal (1981-2010)). 

“With the hot summer winding down, we are looking ahead to fall and winter and predictions indicate that the warmth will continue into fall with hints of a cold winter,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist, The Weather Company. “The La Nina event now appears to be less impressive than originally thought but, more importantly, the eastern North Pacific will likely be unusually warm going forward into winter for the heating season. These warmer waters may disrupt the typical equatorial Pacific convective patterns associated with La Nina, and may result in a greater threat for cooler temperatures in northern/eastern US. However, over the next couple of months, the warmer temperatures will likely persist in the eastern US.”

The Atlantic tropical cyclone forecast numbers for the season have been reduced slightly from 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes to 15/8/3. “There is enough evidence that the large-scale environment will not be quite as favorable for development in the tropical Atlantic as originally expected,” said Crawford. “We continue to expect more tropical activity than we’ve seen in recent years, with a noticeable uptick during the next three weeks or so.”

September Forecast By Region

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

“September gets a little tricky as the month can be broken up into front and back halves, where the former can still see some warmer weather drive up power burns where the latter is more about the daylight hours getting shorter as we get ready for fall.” said Jeff Richter, Principal at EnergyGPS. “As we break down the regional weather forecast, we feel that the warmer-than-normal regions will create moderate temperatures which result in less power burns than what we are seeing this August. This will ultimately keep the power burns in check and leave the price action looking at production and imports/exports. It should be noted that the Sabine LNG facility has planned maintenance on the books for the month of September.”

October Forecast By Region

  • Northeast – Warmer than normal
  • Southeast – Warmer than normal
  • North Central – Warmer than normal east, cooler than normal west
  • South Central –Warmer than normal
  • Northwest – Cooler than normal
  • Southwest – Warmer than normal

Richter states, “The warmer-than-normal regions in October will definitely reduce the power burn demand across the country. We will be keeping a close eye on the planned outages for nuclear and/or coal plants as any disruption in the supply stack will be compared to how much the power loads are dropping. At this point, the storage facilities should all be close to full, which will be roughly 4 weeks early compared to years past.”

November Forecast By Region

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

“The colder-than-normal forecast in the Northeast is really what sticks out here.  This will be our first sign of potentially above-normal demand for heating across the country. We will have a pretty good idea on where production stands by then and the one thing we will know is the storage landscape is going to be healthy. It should be noted that, at some point in the fall, state regulators/politicians in California will have to make a decision on what to do with Aliso Canyon as the gas that could be put in storage would be able to be used come the colder winter months.”

The Weather Company provides customized weather information to global commodity traders via its industry-leading WSI Trader Web site. The Weather Company will issue its next seasonal outlook on September 20.