Two forecasters think so, based on El Nino, or the cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, which is expected to bring lower temperatures than were experienced in recent summers to many areas of the U.S. this year.
The latest forecast comes from Commodity Weather Group which on Monday confirmed its earlier projection that the cooling degree days from June to August would be 12-13 percent below those in 2011.
The five-month summer season from May to September overall is expected to be 10 percent cooler than last year, and the risks are for yet lower temperatures, the company said.
Utilities May Get Summer Break
“The concern is that the forecast may not be cool enough given the building agreement for a new El Nino to form,” CWG said.
Still, the company warned that there is concern about a “hotter exception” summer like 2002 or 2006, and that the outlook may become clearer in its next forecast on May 21.
The possibility of a relatively mild summer comes after record heat across wide areas of the U.S. in the summer of 2011 when dozens of cities experienced triple-digit highs and record average temperatures, pushing up electricity demand.
That tested major grid operators such as PJM which on July 20 last year recorded peak demand of 150,560 mw, up from its predicted peak of 148,940 mw.
“There is no doubt it will be milder than the past couple of summers,” – Leonard
Weather Services International, which provides weather data to energy companies and other businesses, said on April 24 that it too expects a milder summer this year.
“The combination of an emerging El Nino, expectations for relatively muted levels of atmospheric blocking, and cooler North Atlantic ocean temperatures all suggest a milder summer, especially in those areas of the southern U.S. that have been plagued by hot summers in recent years,” WSI said.
It said the cooler temperatures would be particularly noticeable in the Texas-based ERCOT territory which saw record power demand during some periods last summer.
“There is no doubt it will be milder than the past couple of summers,” said WSI senior meteorologist Dan Leonard.
But there are likely to be noticeable regional variations in temperatures relative to last year, and those may reflect the normal El Nino pattern in which cooling is sharper in the south than in the north, and is more likely to occur later in the summer.
For those reasons, WSI is forecasting June temperatures will be 2-3 degrees above average in the Midwest, the Plains and the Northeast, while July and August will be only 0-1 degree above normal in those areas.
Leonard also cautioned that the coming summer is unlikely to be as cool as 2009, a recent benchmark for unusually low summer temperatures.
Despite expectations for milder temperatures, any moderation should be seen in context of the last two summers of record heat in many parts of the U.S., cautioned Tony Sweet, senior market analyst for Bentek Energy, a data and analysis company.
“It’s very unlikely we will see three years of record heat in a row,” he said.