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NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. winter heating fuel stockpiles remain well above year-ago levels, but the early arrival of cold temperatures in some regions of the United States have pushed oil prices higher this week.
Below is a sampling of recent winter outlooks from government and private forecasters.
El Nino phenomenon to be dominant factor in U.S. weather.
In December through February, warmer-than-average temperatures will prevail across much of the Western and Central states, with below average temperatures in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
The forecast for the Northeast, the world's largest heating oil market, will have equal chances of above-normal, near-normal, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation. [nN15304234]
JOE BASTARDI, CHIEF HURRICANE AND LONG-RANGE FORECASTER, ACCUWEATHER, STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA:
Winter to be stormier, colder than recent years, with a weakening El Nino pattern.
The regions from southern New England through the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic, including the Carolinas, to be hit hardest by cold and snowy weather. Cold to hit major cities in the South, including Atlanta and Charlotte.
Midwest and central Plains could get below normal snowfall.
A warm and somewhat dry weather pattern expected from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Plains. [ID:nN14249032]
JIM ROUILLER, METEOROLOGIST, PLANALYTICS INC, WAYNE, PENNSYLVANIA:
An early and cold start to winter and a milder finish, with the potential for early snowpack in Canada to intensify the cold air sweeping into the United States.
Into January, the jet stream associated with El Nino will make the South the dominant player in the U.S. weather pattern. The northern half of the country will trend milder, while the desert Southwest eastward will trend colder than normal and stormier.
In January the North Atlantic Oscillation will be negative, which can mean periodic shots of very cold air and establish a storm trend, which means a higher snowstorm threat.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will average out close to normal, but there will be radical temperature swings, with a few days of extreme cold followed by milder air.
Upper-Midwest will have a cold start characterized by some early winter cold shots, but it will head milder into January.
CRAIG SOLBERG, METEOROLOGIST AND SENIOR WEATHER ANALYST, FORECAST TRADING, DES MOINES, IOWA:
Below-normal temperatures expected for the majority of the nation, with the highest probability of below-normal readings in the Southeast.
Near-normal or above-normal readings are expected in northern-tier states as far east as Lake Michigan, with the highest probability of above-normal readings across northern Montana into northern North Dakota.
El Nino should remain in place through the winter season, in contrast to the previous two winters, when La Nina conditions prevailed in the Pacific Ocean.
Mild and drier weather that occurred across the southern U.S. will switch toward a cooler and wetter pattern this year. In contrast, the cold and snowy conditions that frequented the Northwest and north central states will turn milder and less snowy for the 2009-10 season.
The threat for several strong East Coast storms will be back this year after a recent quieter period.
TRAVIS HARTMAN, ENERGY WEATHER MANAGER, EARTHSAT, ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND:
The main driver for the winter will be a moderate strength El Nino in the central tropical Pacific. With that will be a propensity for warmer-than-normal temperatures -- normal being the 30-year normal from 1971 to 2000 -- across the northern U.S. tier, specifically the Northern Plains, the Midwest and the Great Lakes region.
November will cooler than normal in all areas except the West.
This relatively cool forecast, combined with colder seasonal temperatures, will boost demand significantly from October's depressed shoulder-month levels.
The warmer-than-normal weather in the West will reduce regional seasonal heating demand slightly. However, the effects of the cooler weather in the East will outweigh the effects in the West. On balance, November should be bullish from a weather-related perspective. (Reporting by New York Energy Desk)