Monday, 09 October, 2017

MDA calls for 'back-loaded winter' with upper Midwest taking brunt of cold - MDA Information Systems is calling for a "back-loaded winter" as near-normal temperatures this autumn will trend increasingly below normal through March 2018.

Speaking at the North American Energy Markets Association fall conference in New Orleans on Sept. 22, MDA director of weather marketing Chris Hyde said that a "toasty September" is expected to give way to temperatures closer to normal or possibly even below average for most of the U.S. in October and November.

Compared to a record warm autumn in 2016, this could mean more heating degree days. MDA is projecting 220 gas-weighted heating degree days, or GWHDDs, in October, below the 30-year norm of 290 but well above last October's 199 total. In November, MDA expects 543 GWHDDs, still shy of the 30-year norm of 562 but well above the 441 recorded in November 2016.

According to MDA's initial winter outlook released Oct. 3, the weather this winter will present more of a mixed bag for the 90-day period from December 2017 through February 2018.

"The bullseye we feel will be centered over much of MISO and SPP as far as the cold conditions go," Hyde said. The East and South regions can expect seasonal conditions for the 90-day winter period with temperatures in California being above normal

Overall, MDA's forecast for 2,635 gas-weighted heating degree days in the three-month stretch would easily exceed the 2,263 GWHDDs logged during an exceptionally mild winter of 2016/17 and would even top the 30-year normal for 2,605 GWHDDs.

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Hyde noted that below-normal temperatures will begin to creep across the country in December and January 2018, starting with "a more widespread chill in the Midwest."

"In February, the gates open big time and [the cold conditions] intensify for much of the eastern two thirds of the U.S.," he said. The cold is expected to taper off a bit in March but with a lingering chill in the Northeast.

"It's kind of a back-loaded winter," he said.

For the heating season, which spans November through March, MDA is projecting 3,818 GWHDDs, topping the 30-year average of 3,798 GWHDDs and far surpassing last year's 3,293 GWHDDs.

Looking at the tropics, MDA is forecasting another four named storms in the 2017 Atlantic Basin season, bringing the total for the season to 17. Hyde noted that this could include a "couple more hurricanes," including one more of Category 3 or higher, which would bring the total number of major hurricanes for the season to five.

The 30-year average for a season includes 12 names storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Last year, the Atlantic Basin saw 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes and four majors.

Looking at renewables, Hyde said that a colder-than-normal winter often means reduced solar activity and that most of the country will see lighter winds than normal and in most cases lighter than last year.

With regard to precipitation, MDA expects below-normal precipitation for central and Southern California from fall 2017 through spring 2018 but with wet conditions in the Northwest from December 2017 through January 2018.


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