Updated August 28 at 4:28pm

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ENVIRONMENT

U.S. Northeast may start 2013 colder than normal

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BOSTON - The U.S. Northeast and mid-Atlantic states will start January with below-normal temperatures, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC.

Temperatures will be 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 to 2.8 Celsius) lower than the norm from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, Rogers said. The colder air will be concentrated in the East from the Canadian Maritimes to North Carolina from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7, he said.

“We continue to see a cold-prevailing variable pattern dominating the next two weeks,” Rogers, who’s based in Bethesda, Maryland, wrote today in a note to clients. “The biggest challenge continues to be managing a cavalcade of storm systems that affect temperature forecast details.”

Energy traders look to long-range forecasts to gauge potential fuel use. Below-normal temperatures in the large cities of the Midwest and Northeast may increase demand for energy to warm homes and businesses, pushing up natural gas and heating oil prices.

Rogers said snow from a series of storms expected to cross the U.S. in the next two weeks may influence how cold it gets.

“These storms also start laying down more extensive snow pack that could add some colder feedback mechanisms, especially in the Midwest, and by this weekend or next week, in the East too,” Rogers wrote.

In New York, the normal average temperature for Dec. 25 is about 36 degrees, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 32 in Boston; 25 in Chicago; 32 in St. Louis; 53 in Houston; 19 in Calgary, Alberta; 35 in Seattle; and 49 in Burbank, California.

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