Tokyo, Osaka Brace for Cold Snap That May Boost Demand for Power, Heating
Japan is forecast to have colder temperatures starting today as the weather patterns that caused freezing conditions in the U.S. and Europe envelop the country, boosting demand for gas and power from companies including Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The temperature in central Tokyo may fall to 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) tomorrow, from a low of 6.6 degrees yesterday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. In Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest urban center after Tokyo, a low of 3 degrees is forecast for tomorrow and snow is expected in other southwestern cities including Fukuoka today.
Airlines in the U.S. canceled more than 1,400 flights as snowstorms hit the Midwest last week, after unusually cold weather caused travel disruptions across Europe. Parts of Asia may have colder-than-average temperatures as weather systems move in from the arctic regions, said Kenji Kobayashi, a weather forecaster at Japan’s meteorological agency.
“Cold temperatures would be God’s gift to Japan’s utilities,” Reiji Ogino, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. said. “Gas suppliers, in particular, could benefit from stronger sales of gas for households, which are more profitable than those for offices.”
Tokyo Electric has enough capacity to meet any increases in demand, spokesman Daisuke Hirose said. Kansai Electric doesn’t anticipate any problems meeting customer requirements, spokesman Satoru Kawanishi said. Spokesmen at Tokyo Gas Co. and Osaka Gas said they have enough supplies to meet contingencies.
Tokyo Electric expects profit to decline by 40 percent to 80 billion yen ($950 million) for the year ending March, it said in October. Kansai Electric is expecting net income to fall by 19 percent to 103 billion yen profit for the year.
Tokyo Gas said in October net income will probably be 68 billion yen for the year, up 26 percent from a year earlier, while Osaka Gas forecast a 7 percent fall in profit to 45 billion yen.
Shares of Tokyo Electric fell 0.5 percent to close at 1,982 yen in Tokyo trading. Kansai Electric declined 0.3 percent to 2,029 yen. Osaka Gas gained 0.6 percent to 315 yen, while Tokyo Gas was unchanged at 366 yen.
The jet stream, a high atmospheric wind band that blows from west to east, is moving in an unusual pattern this year causing the snowstorms that hit Europe and the U.S., said Hisashi Nakamura, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Tokyo.
The same conditions may produce a cold snap across Japan till the end of December, said Nakamura, who correctly predicted the heat waves in the country during the summer.
A strong La Nina cycle is one of the causes of the moves in the jet stream, Nakamura said.
La Nina is a phenomenon that involves the cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean and occurs on average every three to five years, usually lasting nine to 12 months, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The meandering jet stream caused cold temperatures in Europe from late November and in the U.S. last week,” said Shuhei Maeda, weather forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency. “Next will be Japan.”
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