More Cold Weather to Chill Midwest as Snowstorm Misses Northeast

Temperatures across the Midwest are forecast to crash below zero Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius) and reach the teens in New York this week as another round of arctic air sweeps south from Canada and a major snowstorm misses the Northeast.

Snow flurries forecast for Chicago early today will clear up before morning rush hour, according to AccuWeather Inc. Temperatures in the city will reach 10 degrees by 9 a.m., with a wind chill factor of minus 4. Commuters in Minneapolis will be struck by a wind chill factor as low as minus 26, with real temperatures reaching minus 3 by 10 a.m.

A storm may graze the Northeast later this week without becoming much of a problem, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.

“It is looking more and more like that storm is going to get its act together off the coast and that is a good thing,” Kines said by telephone yesterday. “I think the big thing is that it will be well below normal for this week.”

The U.S. and Canadian winter has been marked by wave after wave of frigid air moving across the continent. The cold has combined with other systems to bring ice storms to Atlanta and heavy snow to the Northeast, snarling air and rail services.

Average temperatures at least 15 degrees below normal will spread across the Great Plains and Midwest through March 5, according to Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. Readings may be 25 degrees below normal in Chicago, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Natural Gas

Natural gas fell for a second day in New York, extending the biggest drop in six years, after an update from the National Weather Service showed higher temperatures than previously forecast in the Midwest from March 6 to March 10.

Futures for March delivery, which expire today, declined as much as 3.1 percent in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and were at $5.289 per million British thermal units at 10:54 a.m. London time.

The gas-weighted heating degree days value for the U.S. is expected to reach 220 this week, 40 more than normal and 38 more than last year. The figure, a measure of cold and heating demand, is calculated by subtracting the average temperature from a base of 65 degrees with more emphasis given to those parts of the U.S. that burn the most gas.

“This air mass that is coming down across the northern plains to northern New England is about as cold as it can get at this time of year,” Kines said.

10 Below

The lowest, and perhaps record-breaking, temperatures in the U.S. will probably come just north of Interstate 80, which runs from northern New Jersey to San Francisco, the U.S. Weather Prediction Center said.

“Details gyrate, but the song remains the same,” Rogers wrote in a forecast yesterday.

The National Weather Service has issued wind-chill advisories from Montana to Minnesota and Indiana. The combination of cold air and wind may make temperatures feel like minus 35.

Rogers predicts that temperatures will remain at least 5 degrees below normal across most of the eastern U.S. from March 6 to March 10, and 8 degrees lower in the Midwest, Great Lakes and Ontario.

Last year, the 48 contiguous U.S. states had an average temperature of 40.8 Fahrenheit, or 0.9 degrees below the 20th-century average, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. It was the coolest March since 2002.

California may get some rain from a system about to come in off the Pacific, Kines said. Most of California is gripped by the two worst levels of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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