U.S. Weather Promises Energy Boost as Temperatures Rise

Chicago may reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius) today and New York City 90 as a heat wave that set or tied 196 daily temperature records yesterday moves east, promising to raise energy demand.

Temperatures broke 100 from North Dakota to Texas yesterday as 138 new daily highs and 58 warmest lows were set or tied across the Great Plains, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Yesterday’s highest temperature was 114 in Benkelman, Nebraska.

“A very hot pattern continues over many areas of North America over the next two weeks,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ninety to 100-degree temperatures in the large cities and suburbs of the U.S. East Coast will spike energy demand, raising prices in spot electricity markets. The forecasts helped boost natural gas futures to a five-month high yesterday.

Energy demand may rise by 60 percent from Chicago to the mid-Atlantic states through July 5, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri. It may be 30 percent more in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, he said.

The forecasts pushed natural gas for July delivery to settle at $2.774 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, the highest level since Jan. 11.

Temperatures throughout the East are expected to be about 8 degrees above normal through July 2, Rogers said. It’s possible Chicago and the Midwest may stay hotter than normal through July 12, he said.

July Prediction

Heat lasting into July may be a portent of things to come, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The company revised its forecast for July to predict the month will be one of the five warmest since 1950 in the large cities that use the most energy.

MDA’s new outlook for July has a population-weighted cooling-degree days value of 380, exceeding both the 30-year and 10-year norms. That will still be cooler than last July’s 412.5, MDA said.

Cooling-degree days are calculated by subtracting a base of 65 degrees from the daily average temperature to show energy demand. Higher values mean warmer weather and more energy being used to cool homes and businesses.

Temperatures in the central U.S. are being raised by an area of high pressure, said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Once such heat domes set up, “they are very hard to move,” he said.

Drought Contributes

Salmon said drought conditions through the region will exacerbate the heat. An area from northern California to West Virginia has some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The only parts of the U.S that may have a chance of cooling are the extreme corners, said Michael Schlacter, chief meteorologist at Weather 2000 in New York. He said Maine, Florida, the Pacific Northwest and parts of coastal California may be cooler while the rest of the U.S. bakes.

Heat warnings extend from Wisconsin and Michigan into Alabama and Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service.

An excessive heat warning has been posted in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, including Philadelphia and Trenton. An excessive heat watch, meaning the combination of heat and humidity may make temperatures feel they are as much as 110 degrees, has been posted from Baltimore to Charlottesville, Virginia, including Washington.

Temperature Forecasts

The high temperature is expected to reach 95 today and 99 tomorrow in Washington, according to the Weather Service. It may reach 98 in Philadelphia tomorrow, 99 in Newark; 98 in New York City; and 92 in Boston.

Atlanta is expected to reach 101 tomorrow and 100 through the weekend. Toronto will be near 90 throughout the weekend, according to Environment Canada.

For July 1, the normal average temperature in New York City is 76, according to MDA. It’s 72 in Boston; 79 in Washington; 80 in Atlanta; 74 in Chicago; 84 in Houston; 64 in Seattle and 73 in Burbank, California.

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