Fog Hinders Air Traffic in U.S. East as Midwest Heats Up

Fog on the East Coast slowed some air traffic as forecasters predicted that record-setting heat across the U.S. Midwest, including Chicago, may extend through the end of the month.

Dense fog in parts of the East early today cut visibility to less than a quarter-mile, causing flight delays of 20 minutes at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and 37 minutes at Philadelphia International, the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website.

A dense fog advisory was posted until 10 a.m. for stretches from North Carolina to Massachusetts, the National Weather Service said.

Chicago’s high yesterday was 85 Fahrenheit (29 Celsius), surpassing the old record for the date of 76 set in 1921, according to the Weather Service. Other all-time highs for March 20 were set in Detroit, with 82; Cleveland, 83; and Indianapolis, which also reached 83, breaking a record set in 1894.

“Records continue to be not only broken but smashed across northern Illinois,” said the weather service office in Romeoville, Illinois. “In Chicago prior to this year there had only been 10 days in March with highs in the 80s, which means on average, Chicago only sees an 80-degree high once about every 14 years.”

Traders watch temperature predictions to gauge energy use and demand. About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Natural gas futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange are down 22 percent this year because of a warmer-than-average winter and high output that led to an inventory glut.

Chicago Record Threatened

Through yesterday, Chicago’s average temperature monthly temperature has been 52.6, on pace to break the previous record of 49.6 set in 1910 and 1945, according to the weather service.

The average daily temperature in Chicago has been at least 30 degrees above normal for the past four days and at least 20 above since March 12, according to weather service data.

“Thus at the current pace it is almost a certainty that Chicago and Rockford will not only break but shatter their current record warmest Marches,” the agency said.

Temperatures in Chicago are expected to be at least 18 degrees above normal through March 31, according to a 6- to 10-day forecast from David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

Across a large part of the East, temperatures are expected to be 6 to 10 degrees above normal, Salmon said.

Seasonal East Possible

The only areas closer to seasonal temperatures next week may be the West and East coasts, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Before any potential cooling comes to the East Coast, temperatures are expected to be warm through this week. Boston may reach 78 today and 82 tomorrow, while Concord, New Hampshire, may be 83 today and 84 tomorrow, according to the weather service.

Highs in New York’s Central Park are forecast to be 72 today and 75 tomorrow and in Washington, 76 today and 77 tomorrow.

The warm weather also extends to Canada, where highs today may be about 73 in Toronto and 78 tomorrow, according to Environment Canada.

The normal average temperature in New York on March 30 is about 47 degrees, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 43 in Boston and Chicago, 52 in St. Louis, 58 in Atlanta, 61 in Dallas, 66 in Houston, 49 in Seattle and 59 in Burbank, California.

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