Thursday, March 2, 2006

Winter Marches Back

The greater Washington DC region was a veritable rainbow of temperature contrasts this afternoon. A strong warm front just south of the immediate metro area separated mid 40s in mid afternoon at the major airports from mid and upper 60s at Culpeper and Stafford and low 70s at Fredericksburg. By 4pm, Washington National managed to eke out a reading of 49, while Fredericksburg was 75, and further to the south, Petersburg was 81. BWI, on the other hand, was 42 in light rain and fog.

Temperature chart at 2pm today from Unisys.

All of this was ahead of a low pressure area tracking almost directly overhead as it moved eastward near the Mason-Dixon line, bringing a narrow band of heavy snow through interior New York, Pennsylvania, and southern New England. Following the passage of the low, another shot of Arctic air will bring a reminder that winter may not be quite dead yet. The model forecasts are still valiantly trying to develop a storm on Monday, but the development so far remains too far offshore to be very interesting in these parts. (See the extended term details in Josh's post below.)

Tonight and Tomorrow

After a slight chance of showers through this evening, clouds will decrease overnight, with lows near 30. Tomorrow will be mostly clear with highs in the mid 40s.

Gas Pains

Today was weekly natural gas inventory day, and commodity market prices were up a few percent after slightly larger than expected inventory reductions following cold temperatures in the Northeast. However, gas prices dropped 28% in the month of February, according to CNBC, to their lowest levels in a year.

The chart shows Washington Gas monthly Purchased Gas Charges (PGC) since Jan. 2000. This price which you pay for your monthly gas consumption is supposedly determined directly from the market price without markup. The rate you will pay on your March bill, just posted today to the Washington Gas web site, is $1.175 per therm. This morning's commodity market price of approximately $0.69 per therm is shown by the large yellow dot on the right of the chart.

Is there anyone out there from Washington Gas who can explain why there is about a 70% markup over the market price? chart from Washington Gas and CNBC data; photo © Kevin Ambrose.

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Seasonal Outlook

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Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.