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A colder winter may not mean higher oil prices


November 04, 2009
Both temperatures and heating costs are expected to dip lower this winter than last, though experts point out that these predictions, particularly about the weather, aren't guaranteed.

Charlie Stafford of Stafford Oil in Laconia said he is not a "guru" on the matter, but if the economy stays as it is right now, the Lakes Region may be looking at oil prices at half of what they were last year.

Last year, the rate for oil was $4.59. This year, despite the foreseen cold winter, Stafford said the rate could possibly go for $2.39, although supply and demand may add or subtract a few digits.

"If politics stays the way it is, I don't see dramatic increases," said Stafford. "The producers of oil realize the American economy is not doing well. They realize they can sell it better for less money (or they'll lose business)."

Stafford said that larger inventories of oil help, and that companies will aim to keep oil prices stable and lower than last year, although whatever happens in the Middle East could call off all bets.

While oil prices look steady for the time being, the amount of snow may be slim this year, with more frigid air setting in.

Chair of the Meteorologist Department at Plymouth State University Eric Hoffman said it is tricky to prepare for the winter season, since seasonal forecasts are not always accurate. However, the colder weather in October could very well mean colder weather in November, and so on.

"Seasonal forecasting is not as good as forecasting for tomorrow. It is accurate for five days, and not as accurate beyond that. The best you can do is weigh the percentages based on the norm," said Hoffman.

Although the weather or the amount of snow isn't always predictable, when temperatures drop significantly in winter months, it is almost guaranteed there will be less snow on the horizon.

It may never be too cold to completely stop snowing in the winter, but it can be cold enough for snow to accumulate less often. It can snow below zero, but the level of moisture and precipitation in the air drops, making it more difficult for snow to develop in the air.

The recipe for snow includes an above zero temperature, saturated air, and the ability for snow to develop aloft the saturated air. Warm air contains water vapor, and the colder the weather, the less likely high amounts of water vapor are present in the air to help produce snow. As a result, cold air has less of an ability to retain water and moisture, which may be what we are looking at for this upcoming winter.

Average temperatures per year may also point to a winter weather pattern. The average overall low temperatures for the Lakes Region during winter months include an average of 32 degrees in October, 25 degrees in November, and 13 degrees in December. Average highs include a temperature of 45 in October, 35 in November, and 23 degrees in December.

According to the Concord Weather Station, last October in the Lakes Region averaged a temperature of 36 degrees, and humidity levels at 69. November averaged 34 degrees with humidity at 58, and December averaged 34 degrees with humidity levels at 56, which made for more snowy days than are expected this year.

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