Bloomberg News

U.S. Winter May Be Coldest in Decade, Commodity Weather Says

October 24, 2011

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The coming U.S. winter may be the coldest in more than 10 years, Commodity Weather Group LLC said in its seasonal forecast.

Temperatures will range from 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 to 1.7 Celsius) below normal across much of the U.S., according to the forecast. The period from November to March is expected to be 2.4 percent colder than last year, said Bethesda, Maryland-based CWG.

“This would be the coldest winter since 2000-01,” the company said.

Traders use long-range temperature predictions to gauge energy use and market fluctuations. Hot or cold weather can increase demand for heating and cooling, and power plants use about 30 percent of the nation’s gas supplies, according to Energy Department data.

CWG President Matt Rogers predicts the gas-weighted heating degree days value for the U.S. will reach 4,024 this year, compared with 3,928.2 last year and the 10-year average of 3724.4. The winter of 2000-2001 had a value of 4,167.7, according to CWG.

Heating degree days, calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees, are designed to show energy demand. Higher values mean cooler weather and more energy being used to heat homes and business.

Gas-weighted degree days give more value to areas where there are higher populations using natural gas to stay warm.

East Coast Outlook

New York, Washington and Philadelphia will probably be 1 degree cooler on average, while New England and the West Coast will be more seasonal, CWG said.

November is expected to be 9.3 percent colder than last year, with December forecast to be 0.6 percent cooler, according to the forecast.

CWG laid out four possible alternatives in case its exact forecast is wrong. The most likely is that the eastern two- thirds of the U.S. will become much colder than normal. The other three scenarios are for milder winters.

CWG also predicts much of Europe will be colder than normal, with the lowest temperatures most likely in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and central Russia. Most of China will have lower-than-normal temperatures, the forecaster said.

--Editors: Charlotte Porter, Margot Habiby

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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