October 24, 2016

Much Colder Temperatures Than Last Winter Across the Northern Tier and Southeast, Mild Winter in Southwest to Central U.S.

For the upcoming November–January period, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is predicting warmer-than-normal temperatures across all of the U.S. on average, with the exception of the Southeast. The current winter (December–February) outlook calls for above-normal temperatures in all locations, especially across the Southwest into the central U.S., but notably colder than the very mild winter last year. (The Weather Company seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal [1981-2010]).

“October has been the fourth straight month characterized by cooler-than-normal temperatures across parts of the West and unusually warm temperatures across the eastern U.S. – the current cold spell notwithstanding,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist, The Weather Company. “While the La Nina appears weak, as defined by the tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures, the atmosphere has responded and is exhibiting the opposite atmospheric response compared to what we saw last fall with the strong El Nino event. Assuming this response continues, the combination of La Nina forcing and the very warm North Pacific waters will likely result in a pattern where the warmest temperatures, relative to normal, will occur from the Southwest into the central part of the country. Parts of the East will experience the coldest temperatures earlier in the winter, while the Northwest will feel colder temperatures later in the season. We don’t expect particularly large anomalies in the areas of cold temperatures.”

The regional forecast and expected impact on energy use for November through January is as follows:

November Forecast by Region

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

“The medium-range forecasts produced in the last week of October will give us a good glimpse into how the month of November will shape up,” said Jeff Richter, principal at EnergyGPS. “If the warmer weather pattern sticks around, it will bring down power burns, which have been high in the South Central and Northeast regions month to date. Add to it the fact that residential and commercial (res/com) demand will be lower than normal and lower prices might be expected.”

December Forecast by Region

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

According to Richter, “It is hard to imagine lower energy demand this December relative to last, but if the regional forecasts hold true the res/com demand will not be significantly large again this year. We will still be watching other components such as production, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and Mexican export as they will be important to the overall supply/demand balance year-on-year comparison.”

January Forecast by Region

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

“The key to these forecasts is the word ‘warmer’ in two-thirds of the regions,” Richter said. “This will equate to below-normal res/com demand in the Northeast and Central. The Southeast will give us a little heating demand, while the Northwest will be cold enough to allow for some snowpack accumulation. This will present a situation later in the spring when the ample runoff and continued increase in solar power generation will result in plenty of available power on the grid.”

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 Nov. 21, 2016.