Most of U.S. to Have Warmer-Than-Normal Weather, Forecasters Say

Most of the U.S. will probably have above-normal temperatures through next week, which is usually one of the year’s coldest, forecasters say.

The eastern U.S. from Maine to Florida will average 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3 to 5.6 Celsius) above normal from Jan. 26 to Jan. 30, according to David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

“It is with considerable confidence that we can believe National Weather Service modeling is leading all to believe that the coming week, usually the coldest of the year, will have incredibly low heating needs,” Salmon said in a note to clients.

Traders use long-range temperature predictions to gauge energy use and demand for heating and cooling. Natural gas for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange has slumped 23 percent in 2012 as warmer weather sapped demand. Gas rose 0.6 percent to $2.336 per million Btu as of 5:28 a.m. in electronic trading today, trimming a 6.1 percent drop yesterday that drove it to the lowest level in 10 years.

Salmon predicted the eastern U.S. will use 20 to 60 percent less energy for heating from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27 than normal.

January’s gas-weighted heating degree days value for the U.S. was 479, or 73 below the 30-year average of 552, through Jan. 18, according to Travis Hartman, a meteorologist at MDA. It is 61 below the 10-year average.

Degree Days

“That is the sixth warmest on record,” Hartman said yesterday by telephone. “Here we are in what is supposed to be the coldest month of the year and we are in the top handful of warmest Januarys on record. We’re well below normal in terms of heating demand no question it has been a warm, bearish January so far.”

The values are calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees to show energy demand. Higher values mean cooler weather and more energy being used to heat homes and businesses. Gas-weighted values are designed to reflect natural gas usage.

Both Salmon and Commodity Weather Group LLC President Matt Rogers are predicting warmer-than-normal weather will spread across most of the U.S. in the coming week, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest.

Temperatures in the bulk of the U.S., as well as eastern Canada, are expected to be about 5 degrees higher than normal, said Rogers from his office in Bethesda, Maryland.

Frigid Air

In his 11- to 15-day forecast, Rogers calls for frigid air to return to Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada and to seep into the Pacific Northwest and northern Great Plains. The U.S. East Coast will have more seasonal temperatures, he said.

Warmer-than-normal weather will spread across much of the central and southern U.S., including Texas, the lower Mississippi and Ohio River valleys, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, Rogers said. Salmon doesn’t issue an 11- to 15-day forecast.

For Jan. 27, the normal average temperature in New York is 32.5, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In Boston it’s 29; in Chicago, 24; Atlanta, 44; Houston, 54; Seattle, 43; and Burbank, California, 55.

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