Warm Weather in U.S. Midwest May Curb Natural Gas Demand

Another week of warm weather across the central U.S. this week may mean less natural gas needed to warm Midwestern homes and businesses.

Temperatures through the Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico are expected to be 8 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 to 7.8 Celsius) above normal, according to a 1- to 5-day outlook from MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The warm weather may mean 30 to 60 percent less energy is used to heat homes and business, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri. About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Commodities traders watch temperature predictions to gauge energy use and demand. Across the U.S. 7,700 daily high temperature records were set or matched in March, according to the National Climate Data Center. Demand for heat nationwide was 17 percent below normal for the winter season though March 24, Salmon said.

The heating degree days value for this week is forecast to be 66, or 35 below normal and 22 lower than last year, said the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland.

Heating-degree days 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

The natural gas-weighted value is expected to be highest in the six New England states, including Massachusetts, at 128, or 32 below normal, according to the center.

While warm weather stays focused on the central U.S., temperatures in the Pacific Northwest may be 3 degrees below normal, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Western chill may drive energy consumption for heating 10 to 30 percent higher than normal from San Francisco to Seattle, according to Salmon.

After this week, temperatures across much of the U.S. are expected to be only about 3 degrees warmer than normal, Rogers said in his 6- to 10-day outlook.

The exceptions will be in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, where seasonal weather is probable, he said.

The normal average temperature for April 11 in New York is about 51, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 47 in Boston, 46 in Chicago, 56 in St. Louis, 61 in Atlanta, 64 in Dallas, 68 in Houston, 50 in Seattle and 61 in Burbank, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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