U.S. natural gas futures have been on a rollercoaster over the last six months, from gas shortages in Europe to cold weather in the U.S. to the latest geopolitical tensions in Ukraine. Futures for March are up for the third day as commodity traders assess new weather models forecasting colder temperatures on the East Coast will increase heating demand.
Futures for March delivery are up nearly 8% to $4.64/MMBtu on Nymex. A blend of geopolitical tensions and the prospect for cold weather on the East Coast has sent March contracts up over 20% since last Friday.
The latest warmth on the East Coast will dissipate by the weekend as average temperatures from Washington, D.C., to New York City will dive below a 30-year trend line. Average temperatures are expected to rebound next week but begin another plunge next Wednesday into March.
Washington, D.C.'s average temperatures will dive this weekend then rebound next week to only dive once more.
The same trend is in play for New York City.
For the Lower 48 as a whole, colder temperatures appear to be ahead through the first week of March.
There's also a winter storm developing that could track across central and eastern U.S. later today into Thursday.
"This looks to be a rather dynamic storm with the potential for major impacts of several kinds, including heavy snow, significant ice accretion, flooding, severe weather and even a rather broad zone of strong winds," said AccuWeather Meteorologist La Troy Thornton, adding that the eastern half of the country will be in play for at least one of these threats.
Besides weather models, the U.S. has relied on a Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, for a guestimate on the seasonal shift from cold to warm. On Feb. 2, the giant rodent made his annual weather prediction as he saw his "shadow," which means six more weeks of winter.
America might be the only country that relies on a rodent for weather predictions.