Newsroom

News

December 16, 2016

Seasonal Outlook: Brutal East Cold to Relent in January 2017

ANDOVER, Mass. (December, 20 2016) — In its latest seasonal forecast for the January-March period, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is predicting warmer-than-normal temperatures across the southern U.S. into the Northeast, with below-normal temperatures expected across the northwestern quarter and the north-central states. The largest positive temperature anomalies are expected across the northern Plains. (The Weather Company seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal [1981-2010]).

“After seemingly never-ending warmth across the U.S. for most of the last year, the cold has returned with a vengeance,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company. “The combination of a weakened early-season polar vortex and the emergence of an atmospheric pattern associated with La Nina allowed for the recent unusually cold pattern. However, as we head into the new year, the strengthening of the polar vortex and the natural evolution of the tropical sub-seasonal signal should result in a moderation in temperatures across the East. Cold air will likely continue to linger in the Northwest and western Canada as the background La Nina signal will likely hold through the winter. This general pattern is also expected in February and March, although there will likely be another emergence of colder weather across the East, potentially as early as late January.”

January Forecast By Region

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

“It sure seems like January in December as the cold weather takes over the upper portion of the Lower 48.” said Jeff Richter, principal at EnergyGPS. “This weather pattern is such a contrast to last year that the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage number has tipped this year’s U.S. total below last year for the first time.  As we enter into the new year, the warmer-than-normal weather in the Northeast and central part of the country will help steer things back on track as the demand in each region will struggle to top the December levels.”

February Forecast By Region

  • Northeast – Slightly 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
  • Richter stated, “As we start to get settled into the new year, the key piece of the pricing puzzle outside of residential/commercial gas demand will be production across the South Central region. With lowering supply due to Mexican exports and Sabine LNG exports, as well as the reduction in Canadian imports, we are only expecting production numbers in the 70.5-71.0 BCF range, and the grid needs to get up to 73 BCF of production at a minimum in order to get 3.5 BCF back in the ground by the end of summer. So, any colder surprises in February will stress the storage situation further going forward.”

March Forecast By Region

  • Northeast – Slightly 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

“The first thing to point out is the Northwest continues to show colder-than-normal temperatures, which could equate to a later run-off period when it comes to the snowpack hitting the rivers,” Richter said. “This will be something to keep an eye on, as December has given the mountain ranges a pretty good snow base from the recent storms. Portland and Seattle have 1-2 inches of snow on ground.  We should have a pretty good idea of how production is playing out as we watch the price action on the forward curve. We will need to see some uptick in the production numbers or the price for the summer block starts to look pretty cheap.”

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 Jan. 23, 2017.