Arctic Air Blankets Northern U.S. as Texas Set to Receive Snow

Jan 23, 2014 7:10 am ET

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Frigid temperatures are set to reach the U.S. South while the Midwest and Northeast will remain in a deep freeze after a record-setting winter storm that disrupted flights and drove up natural gas prices.

Parts of Texas and Louisiana may receive snow and freezing rain, as an Arctic air mass moves over the central and eastern U.S., according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures in New York, Boston and Washington won’t rise above the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero Celsius) until Jan. 25, while Chicago will have readings 8 degrees or more below that mark until Feb. 1, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“The advancing cold will be severe enough to bring life- threatening conditions, hypothermia and the risk of frostbite to areas from the northern Plains to New England,” Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, wrote on the company’s website. “The penetrating cold has the potential to cause water main breaks as far south as the Ohio Valley and mid- Atlantic and to freeze pipes into parts of the South.”

The cold follows a snowstorm that left record accumulations from Washington to New York City. Wind and snow prompted more than 1,600 flight cancellations yesterday, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based tracking service.

There were 78 cancellations within, into, or out of the U.S. today, as of 6:54 a.m. in New York, FlightAware said.

Eleven inches (28 centimeters) of snow fell in New York’s Central Park on Jan. 21, while Philadelphia had 13.5 inches and Washington received 3.8, all records for the date, the National Weather Service said.

Natural Gas

Arctic air has made a return to the U.S. after freezing temperatures set records across the Midwest earlier this month, while readings dropped to single-digits far into the South.

The freeze in the first two weeks of January curtailed travel and cut the total demand for oil in the U.S., the International Energy Agency said in its monthly oil market report Jan. 21. Canceled flights, reduced car travel and fewer fuel deliveries due to wintry road conditions hurt consumption at the same time as natural gas and electricity gained market share for heating, the Paris-based adviser to 28 industrialized energy consuming nations said.

Natural gas futures rose for a third day in New York today, extending gains from the highest close in 2 1/2 years. Futures for February delivery advanced as much as 4.5 percent to $4.899 per million British thermal units in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Sustained Cold

“We haven’t seen sustained cold weather like this in a long while,” said Tom Saal, senior vice president of energy trading at FCStone Latin America LLC in Miami. “This is absolutely weather-driven. The market is showing some pretty good strength.”

Average temperatures in the eastern U.S. are forecast to be at least 8 degrees below normal until Jan. 31, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

From southern Ontario through the Ohio Valley and into the mid-Atlantic region, readings may be 15 degrees below normal through Jan. 26, he said. Extreme cold will then linger over the Great Lakes and drift into western Quebec.

--With assistance from Christine Buurma, Naureen S. Malik and Eliot Caroom in New York. Editors: Stephen Voss, John Deane