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Commodity Weather Group LLC said December may be colder than predicted in its initial seasonal outlook, which would mean greater demand for energy to heat U.S. homes and businesses this winter.
Temperatures for the month are expected to be lower than last year and below the 10-year average, according to the Bethesda, Maryland-based company’s new forecast. The heating season, which runs from November to March, will also be cooler and require more energy, it said.
“The overall winter seems to be aiming for a colder answer than last year but is still warmer” than the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, CWG President Matt Rogers said in an e- mail interview. He predicted “a lot of week-to-week variability that will keep weather forecasters busy with the twists and turns.”
The gas-weighted heating-degree days value for December will probably be 879, or 28 more than the previous forecast and 109 higher than last year, CWG said. The values are calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees to show energy demand. Higher numbers mean cooler weather and more energy needed for heating.
The overall heating-degree days value from November to March was raised to 3,810.8, compared with last year’s figure of 3,164.5 and the 10-year average of 3,732.2.
Winter starts on Dec. 1 for meteorologists, while the calendar marks the season change on Dec. 21. The winter months are when the most natural gas and heating oil are consumed, and cooler-than-normal weather in the high-population areas of the East Coast and Midwest helps boost demand for energy to warm homes and businesses.
Rogers said there is a chance December may even be colder in the eastern U.S. than currently forecast if a stronger blocking pattern develops in the North Atlantic. The pattern, called the North Atlantic Oscillation, can bottle cold air up in the eastern U.S. and cause temperatures to drop below normal for days at a time.
Rogers said he doesn’t expect this winter will reach the levels of 2009-10 and 2010-11, when the North Atlantic blocking caused cold to grip the eastern and southern U.S., setting snow records across the country.
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