March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Temperatures in the Midwest and Great Plains are expected to fall below normal while both coasts reach seasonal levels as March comes to a close.
From Montana to Ohio and south to Oklahoma, temperatures may be at least 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 to 2.2 Celsius) lower than the norm from March 22 to March 26, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A pocket from eastern Montana to central Nebraska may reach 8 to 14 degrees below normal.
"The core of the strongest cold should be focused across the northern half of the nation, though occasionally some deeper southward penetration is possible," MDA said.
March 20 is the start of astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the month marks the end of the heating season that begins in November. Cooler weather in March has less of an impact on energy markets than it would in January, usually the year’s coldest month.
The normal average temperature in New York City on March 15 is 42 degrees (5.6 Celsius), while on Jan. 15, it’s 32, according to the National Weather Service. In Chicago it’s 38 on March 15 and 24 on Jan. 15, the weather service said.
January accounts for 25 percent of seasonal gas-heating demand compared with about 17 percent for March. About 50 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating.
For the rest of this week, temperatures may reach 5 to 8 degrees above normal across the U.S. West and Rocky Mountain states, according to Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
"Short-term heat is the same to a bit stronger in California, with upper 80s in Burbank peaking on Wednesday and low 90s in Phoenix peaking at 93 on Friday," Rogers said.
Temperatures are expected to reach 83 degrees in Los Angeles this week, according to the weather service. The normal high in the city is about 70.
--Editors: Charlotte Porter, Richard Stubbe