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Warm December Looms for US After Cold Start to Heating Season

Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 06:05 AM

November is in the rearview mirror, and from the looks of things it was a pretty cool one.

As the last full month of the Northern Hemisphere’s fall and the first of the heating season, when most of the natural gas in the U.S. gets burned, it’s the gateway to winter. It’s not necessarily a harbinger of cold. Some forecasters, in fact, are predicting a warm December. More on that later.

The month that just ended was the third-coldest in the last 35 years, behind 1996 and 2000, using natural-gas heating demand as a measure, said Todd Crawford, a meteorologist with WSI in Andover, Massachusetts. It was “about 6.8 percent colder than last year,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

The National Weather Service will tally up all the temperatures from its 122 forecast offices and release a report in the next week or so ranking the month. A quick look at the U.S.’s top four cities, which conveniently sit on the four points of the compass, show three of them had cooler Novembers than usual.

Chicago, which was on the front line of the cold outbreaks through November, had an average temperature of 33.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 Celsius), or 6.7 degrees below normal, the weather service said.

Chicago’s Eighth-Coldest

The month came in as the eighth-coldest November, with the top ranking going to 1872 and 1880.

Manhattan’s Central Park finished the month with an average daily temperature of 45.3 degrees, or 2.4 below normal, pretty close to par, the weather service said. The coldest Novembers on record occurred in 1873 and 1882.

The average daily temperature Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport was 57.4, or 4.9 below normal.

While the East was cold, the West was warm, which has been the theme of the weather across the contiguous 48 U.S. states for most of the year.

Downtown Los Angeles came in at 66 degrees, or 3.6 above normal.

From January to October, the West has trended warmer than the rest of the U.S. except for Maine and Florida, which were just above average, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

No Promises

While November is the gateway to winter, it isn’t a prophet.

“November is no bellwether of the winter ahead, unfortunately,” Rogers said.

Crawford predicts the season is going to take a milder turn, compared with last year, with an El Nino possibly heating up the equatorial Pacific.

“The very cold pattern of November is dead and gone, and the El Nino event is quickly roaring to life,” Crawford said. “Yes, last winter was brutally cold and this past November was also very cold. But as I have been telling clients, El Nino doesn’t care what happened last winter or last month. The transition to a robust El Nino pattern will usher in a multiweek mild period across the major gas demand centers of the northern U.S.”


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November is in the rearview mirror, and from the looks of things it was a pretty cool one. As the last full month of the Northern Hemisphere's fall and the first of the heating season, when most of the natural gas in the U.S. gets burned, it's the gateway to winter. It's...
warm, weather, coming, us
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2014-05-03
Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 06:05 AM
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