Oct 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

A harsh winter is ahead

Average winter energy costs for households primarily heating with...
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Because of higher fuel prices, the Energy Information Administration is forecasting that U.S. households will spend more to heat their homes this winter.

Driving the news: When looking at winter forecasts, there are reasons to be concerned that parts of the U.S. — not to mention Europe, which is fully in the grips of an energy crisis, will see significant cold snaps.

The big picture: This winter is likely to be another La Niña winter, which will feature colder-than-average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

  • Such winters tend to be wetter and cooler than average in the Pacific Northwest, colder than usual in the Northern Plains and parts of the Midwest, wetter in the Ohio Valley, and drier in the South.

Yes, but: They also tend to be highly volatile from one week to the next.

  • Matt Rogers, co-founder of Commodity Weather Group, told Axios they are forecasting a colder-than-average winter in the U.S. and Europe compared to last year.
  • Rogers' group is forecasting about 0.5% higher energy demand for the U.S. this winter, compared to 7% higher energy demand in Europe year over year.

Meanwhile, Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's top long-range forecaster, has his eyes on the polar vortex, the high-level swirl of frigid, low pressure above the Arctic. So too does Judah Cohen, a meteorologist at AER.

  • There are signs, Pastelok told Axios, that the vortex could start the winter weaker than average, which would favor Arctic cold slipping southward into the U.S. and Europe.
  • Cohen says this may not hold for the rest of winter, however.

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