Spring & Summer 2015: Weather Forecast & Your Energy Bill

By Vernon Trollinger, March 27, 2015, Energy Efficiency, News, Save Money

Cold off01_temptemperatures and new blankets of snow or ice in some parts of the country argue that winter’s not done yet. With Easter hopping into town on April 5, a lot of folks in the northeast are hoping their local egg hunt won’t get cancelled by a sudden blizzard.

This past winter, the western states enjoyed moderate temperatures brought by warm Pacific ocean temperatures. This warm air displaced the Polar Vortex back in February, setting up a trough of cold air over Baffin Island and dumping below freezing temperatures into mid Atlantic states. It’s looking like a similar persistent cool-weather pattern may happen again. Below-normal temperatures could linger over the Great Lakes and northeast into the first week of April. West Texas and the northeast may have to wait until May for cooler than normal weather to dissipate.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts:

“April through June (AMJ) 2015 temperature outlook indicates enhanced probabilities of above-normal temperatures for Alaska, west of the Rocky Mountains, and in northern states extending across the northern plains to the western Great Lakes. Probabilities of below-normal temperatures are enhanced for eastern Arizona and western Texas.”

While all that sounds like good news for your early summer energy bill, something is lurking along the west coast: persistent Pacific warmth.

Some experts believe it’s a weather pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO is an El Niño-like weather pattern that affects the tropics, the North Pacific, and North America, but persists over a period of years (El Niño/La Niña effects last less than a year). Major PDO eras, both cold and warm, have persisted for 20 to 30 years.

Citing past data as “decadal climate trends”, NOAA predicts the PDO could bring:

  • Above-normal temperatures are increased for the entire great lakes region into the northeast from May to October, 2015.
  • Above-normal temperatures continuing from January through spring, 2016, most likely in New England and large portions of the northeast .
  • Greater chances of above-normal temperatures extend down the eastern seaboard from June through October, 2015 and along parts of the Gulf Coast from June through December, 2015.

While this hints that the awful cold of the past two years may be over, warmer weather can be a two-edge sword when it comes to your energy usage. And remember that while “above-normal” here suggests a higher probability of warmer temperatures, it does not mean that there will be no snow or the occaisional cold snap.

Your Energy Bill

This April, New York and Pennsylvania consumers will likely face more heating days, although prices on wholesale markets won’t threaten to skyrocket as they did in February due to plentiful and cheap natural gas available for power burn. Likewise, Texas will be cooler than average through May and consumers might also see lower bills there. After that, summer heat will move in. Depending on just how “above-normal” summertime temperatures get, keeping cool could cost you your shirt.

Every year, energy usuage during the April/May period falls to its lowest level with energy prices reaching their lowest levels, as well. That’s why now is the best time to beat this summer’s high cooling costs by locking-in today’s low rates on a fixed-rate electricity plan today.

April-May-June (AMJ) temperature map courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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