October 11, 2006


Mild winter across U.S. possible (Randolph E. Schmid, 10/11/06, The Associated Press)

A weak El Niño under way in the Pacific Ocean should contribute to a mild winter for much of the United States, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

"The strengthening El Niño event will influence the position and strength of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean, which in turn will affect winter precipitation and temperature patterns across the country," Michael Halpert, lead forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.

"This event is likely to result in fewer cold air outbreaks in the country than would be expected to occur in a typical non-El Niño winter," Halpert said.

Natural-gas prices expected to be lower (Michael J. Sniffen, 10/11/06,
The Associated Press)
"This is a very different scene than we had a year ago in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Guy Caruso, head of the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Energy Department's statistical agency.

The hurricanes knocked out 20 percent of the nation's gas production, severely damaged Gulf Coast gas-processing facilities and shut more than a dozen refineries — an impact "we're only now recovering from," Caruso said.

"The greatest beneficiaries will be those who use natural gas because prices went up 29 percent last year" and have since fallen back, he said. Natural-gas stockpiles are expected to be near capacity by Nov 1.

The Energy Department forecast that the average household using natural gas will pay $826 for home hearing this winter, down $119 or 12.5 percent from last winter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2006 12:00 AM
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