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Europe Poised for Mild March as Warm Atlantic Air Cuts Power Use

Europe faces higher-than-normal temperatures for a fourth month in March, with Atlantic airflow displacing colder air as the winter heating season is coming to an end.

All six weather forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg predict milder weather this month. Temperatures in Scandinavia and eastern Europe will be as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal next week, according to MetraWeather, a unit of the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd.

“As well as being warmer than normal, early March should be rather dry across many parts of Europe with relatively low wind production,” Stephen Davenport, senior energy meteorologist at MeteoGroup U.K. Ltd., said by e-mail from London. “Mid-month, there are chances of a cooler few days.”

The mildest winter since 2008 spurred an 18 percent drop in U.K. gas prices and drove German, French and Nordic power prices to record lows. U.K. gas usage is near a 12-year low amid mild weather that cut heating demand. European gas storage was about 50 percent full on Feb. 23, against about 42 percent a year earlier, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe in Brussels show.

An Atlantic jet stream kept cold air at bay so far this winter, according to a report by Todd Crawford, an Andover, Massachusetts-based meteorologist at WSI Corp. Models suggest the pattern will continue into spring, with warm weather across eastern Europe and near-normal temperatures and very wet conditions in the western part of the region, he said.

French Power

Next-month gas in the U.K. closed at 56.15 pence a therm ($9.41 a million British thermal units) on Feb. 28, compared with 68.91 pence at the end of December on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. German power for March fell to a record 31.60 euros ($43.61) a megawatt-hour on Feb. 26 and the French equivalent declined to an all-time-low of 37.75 euros. Power for March in the Nordic region closed near a record at 27.80 euros on the Nasdaq OMX Commodities exchange in Oslo.

Power demand in 10 nations making up 63 percent of European usage fell 3.5 percent in January from a year earlier, according to Societe Generale SA. While consumption should recover slightly this year, total growth, if any, will be modest, analyst Paolo Coghe said in a report on Feb. 21.

Parts of the U.K. had the wettest winter for 248 years, according to the Met Office. A total of 435 millimeters (17 inches) of rain was recorded across England and Wales through Feb. 24, it said three days later. Temperatures will be above normal next month with wet and windy conditions, the national forecaster said on its website.

Warm Germany

Average temperatures in the U.K. are forecast to be 7 degrees Celsius next week, compared with a seasonal norm of 5.9 degrees, according to WSI data using the ECMWF model. Germany is poised to be 3 degrees warmer than normal, the data show.

Germany had the fourth-warmest winter since records began in 1881, according to state forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst. Temperatures this month averaged 4.3 degrees Celsius, 3.9 degrees above the norm, the forecaster said Feb. 27.

Temperatures in March’s second half will be in line with norms in the U.K., France and Iberia, according to Byron Drew, MetraWeather’s lead forecaster based in Reading, England. Germany is expected to be 1 degree above average in the week through March 23, while Italy, eastern Europe and Scandinavia will be as much as 3 degrees warmer than normal, he said in an e-mailed report on Feb. 27.

WSI also predicted higher-than-average temperatures in April and May for most of Europe.

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