Photographer: Kacper Szczechla

January Cold Blast to Bring Snow to Europe, Boost Gas Prices

  • Lack of snow in Alpine ski resorts seen ending this week
  • U.K., France will probably need to draw on stores of gas

Colder-than-normal weather in Europe may this month bring snow to the region’s pistes and increase energy demand and prices.

High pressure will keep temperatures below normal levels, particularly in eastern Europe, according to seven forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg News. Europe’s popular ski resorts in the Alps will have “significant” snowfall after a drought in December, according to Tyler Ros, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania

A cold start to the year may put a strain on Europe’s gas stores, which are already below usual levels for the time of year. Centrica Plc’s Rough facility, the largest gas storage site in the U.K., has 61 percent less fuel than normal due to an unexpected closure for maintenance in June that lasted until December. France is also utilizing its reserves as network bottlenecks create shortages, according to grid operator GRTgaz.

Gas prices on the U.K.’s National Balancing Point hub will average $5.60 a million British thermal units in the first quarter, 47 percent higher than a year earlier, according to Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd.

“In January the cold invades from east to west with temperatures as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) colder than normal in east Europe and a few degrees below in the west,” Joe D’Aleo, WeatherBell Analytics LLC’s chief meteorologist said. “Plenty of snow will fall across almost all of Europe, more than normal.”

There may be as much as 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) of snow in central and east Europe this week, bringing relief to the ski resorts in the northern and eastern Alps, which so far this winter have received little snow, according to The U.K.’s Met Office.

Temperatures in southeast Europe may drop as much 11 degrees Celsius below the seasonal average this week before turning milder next week, according to The Weather Co. From Jan. 16 there is a “particularly cold signal” for southern Germany, the Alps and the south of France, according to Katie Greening, a Weather Co. meteorologist.

In Germany, temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing, dropping to minus 6.3 degrees Celsius Friday and to minus 2.9 degrees by the weekend, compared with a 10-year average of 1.5 degrees, according to Weather Co. data on Bloomberg using the GFS model. Poland will see temperatures of minus 8.1 degrees at the weekend versus a 10-year average of minus 1 degree, the data show.

European gas traders have been bullish for two weeks amid lower-than-normal fuel in storage. A cold snap would mean that the U.K., one of Europe’s biggest traded markets, will need to import more gas from Belgium and Norway. The U.K. has exported gas to the European continent during the last two winters, while this heating season it switched to importing fuel on Nov. 17.

  • A milder-than-normal December meant that 2016 was a record-warm year, according to Marex Spectron Group Ltd. This year will be unlikely to set a new record thanks to the effects of the weak La Nina.
  • The coldest areas in January relative to normal levels will be the Baltics, Romania, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Italy, according to Meteogroup U.K. Ltd forecasts. Scandinavia, Germany, France, the Alps, the U.K. and Spain will see “transient cold spells” in January, energy meteorologist Matthew Dobson said.
  • A “deepening trough of low pressure” is forecast to bring widespread below-normal temperatures to the Balkans, Turkey and the Baltic States over the next week, MDA Information LLC said. Below-normal temperatures are expected to continue into February for the Nordic region, France and Spain

— With assistance by Kelly Gilblom

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