The last two weeks of October may see temperatures in the eastern U.S. drop to below normal, forecasters said.
The forecast for Oct. 18 to Oct. 24 calls for below-normal temperatures from Texas to Maine, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland.
The cold snap may extend into November, said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
“There is a chance of a major pattern change in the later half of the month,” Rouiller said. “The potential is there for a significant cold-weather event.”
A cold snap may drive up the price of natural gas, used for heating. Moderate temperatures, a lack of hurricanes in the main production areas of the Gulf of Mexico and surplus inventories have helped drive natural gas prices down 35 percent this year.
Natural gas for November delivery fell 2.6 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $3.625 per million British thermal units at 12:24 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“We have a huge production overhead, very little weather- related demand and an unemployment number on Friday that was very uninspiring,” said Mike Rose, the director of energy trading for Angus Jackson Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
A number of factors, including a strong La Nina, are pointing to a cooling for the U.S. East Coast, which will be felt the most in the Middle Atlantic states south, said David Streit, senior lead forecaster with the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. La Nina, a cooling of the Pacific Ocean, sometimes lowers temperatures in the U.S. Northeast.
“We’ve got to have a frost one of these days,” Streit said. He said temperatures may sink into the 30s Fahrenheit, below normal lows in the 40s.
In addition to the long-term cold, a large storm is expected to bring heavy rain and cold winds to much of the U.S. Northeast at the end of this week, Rouiller said.
“This is looking very intense,” Rouiller said. “A typical winter-type storm that will produce a lot of rain and cold winds.”