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March 17, 2017

U.S. Seasonal Outlook: The Weather Company Says Unseasonably Cold Weather in Northeast Likely to Fade as Spring Warmth Takes Hold

ANDOVER, Mass. (March 20, 2017) — In its latest U.S. seasonal forecast for the April-June period, The Weather Company, an IBM Business, predicts warmer-than-normal temperatures across the southern and eastern U.S., with below-normal temperatures confined to the northwestern quarter of the country. The largest positive temperature anomalies are expected across the southern Plains and Southeast. (The Weather Company seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year normal [1981-2010]).

“The pattern in March has turned sharply colder in the Northeast as North Atlantic ridging has enabled a direct path for Arctic air migration directly into the major population centers,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company. “We believe that this pattern change is temporary, driven by the historically-strong Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) event in late February, and that a pattern more like what we’ve seen earlier in the winter is likely to return, favoring mild conditions across most of the East this spring."

Crawford add, "As we look ahead to summer, the evolution of the impending El Nino event will play a key role, with a stronger/earlier event resulting in cooler risks across the eastern U.S. and a weaker/later event resulting in a risk for an exceedingly hot summer again. Further, Arctic sea ice deficits will continue to favor high-latitude blocking this summer with associated risks for heat across the southern U.S. Our current take is that the biggest eastern U.S. heat will be early in the summer, with increasing cool risks as the summer progresses and as the atmospheric response to the new El Nino event takes hold.”

April

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

“The late-winter cold blast that has hit the Midwest and East this month has shifted the end-of-winter storage estimates back below the 2.0 TCF level,” said Jeff Richter, principal at EnergyGPS. “We still believe the start of the summer strip is going to produce moderate power burns as the renewable penetration is big in ERCOT, SPP, and CAISO. Adding a little fuel to the fire is the hydro picture in the Pacific Northwest and California, where above-normal winter precipitation should result in ample runoff this spring.”

May

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

According to Richter, “The warmer-than-normal forecast in many parts of the lower 48 will bring some power demand but nothing that will amount to any major movements when it comes to the fundamental power burns.  All the insight will be focused on the coal-to-gas switching price points. Storage levels will get a long look by May, as production numbers will be the biggest driver in how the end-of-summer prices end up.”

June

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

According to Richter, “June will be the transition month, similar to last year, as the normal power demand gets high enough that both coal- and gas-fired generation will need to be online in all parts of the country but the West. This region will be seeing plenty of solar, wind, and hydro generation hit the grid, which will keep backing gas back up into the desert Southwest and Rockies.”

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 April 26.