The U.S. may have its fourth-coldest February since 2001 as blasts of arctic air spread across North America in coming weeks, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC.
Polar air is currently sweeping across the U.S. as far south as Houston and Atlanta, threatening snow and canceling thousands of flights. The pattern producing the outbreak may deliver more in the coming month, Rogers said.
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"Like December and January, we continue to see a higher degree of volatility, but cold weather should continue to dominate the story," Rogers said.
Lower-than-normal temperatures in the large cities of the Midwest and Northeast can spur natural gas and heating oil consumption in those areas. In addition, cold in the South boosts demand for electricity, which heats many homes and businesses there.
Rogers predicted that February will have a natural gas- weighted heating-degree days value of 850, the fourth-highest since 2001. The value, a measure of cold and heating demand, is calculated by subtracting the average temperature from a base of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) and giving more emphasis to those areas that burn natural gas.
February 2007 was the highest since 2001 with a value of 904.8, Rogers said. The five-year average is 773.9 and last year it was 794.8.