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Return to Seasonal Weather May Chill U.S. Northeast

The Northeast may end March with a return to lower, seasonal temperatures that boost demand for heating fuels, while the center of the U.S. remains warmer than normal, forecasters said.

Cooler weather may take hold from New Jersey to New England, including New York, from March 28 to April 2, according to Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

“We see more impressive dents in the eastern flank of the warm ridge over the Northeast/mid-Atlantic with two cool pushes next week,” Rogers wrote in a note to clients today.

Commodities 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.

Through yesterday, 6,077 daily record highs were set across the U.S. in March, said Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some temperatures were as much as 40 degrees above normal.

A record for the day of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) was set yesterday in New York’s Central Park, breaking the old mark of 77 from 1929 and 1938, according to the National Weather Service.

NYC to Cool

New York City’s high today may reach 75. Temperatures will drop into the high 50s over the weekend and be 52 by next week, according to the weather service.

New England may use as much as 90 percent of its normal energy needs for heating when the cooler weather returns to the region, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

In the central U.S., including Chicago, warmer temperatures may mean 60 to 80 percent less energy will be needed for heating. Chicago has had eight days this month where the temperature reached at least 80 degrees, a record.

Forecasters differ on their outlooks for the first week of April.

Rogers, in his 11- to 15-day forecast for April 2 to April 6, said the warm weather may retreat farther north, leaving the East Coast more seasonal and southern California and most of Mexico about 3 degrees below normal.

MDA EarthSat Weather’s outlook for the same period calls for the East Coast to be 3 to 4 degrees above normal and much of the Ohio Valley and Midwest to be even warmer.

The normal average temperature in New York on March 30 is about 47 degrees, according to MDA 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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