Record growth for natural gas-spring forward-weather milestones

Record growth for natural gas production predicted

With record growth in natural gas production in the forecast, federal energy officials see prices for the fuel moderating in the coming months. And that’s good news, considering they also expect more electricity to be coming from natural gas this year and next.

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook issued Feb. 6, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) sees this month’s spot price at Louisiana’s Henry Hub averaging $3.34 per million British thermal units. But for the entire year, the forecast average falls to $3.20, and in 2019, EIA forecasts a $3.08 average.

You can credit that to what’s expected to be record production.

EIA estimates that in 2017, the nation’s dry natural gas production averaged 73.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). It’s now forecasting 2018 production will reach 80.3 Bcf/d, “establishing a new record,” EIA said. And EIA sees natural gas production increasing again in 2019, with forecast growth of 2.6 Bcf/d.

All of this comes as EIA predicts a steady increase in electricity from natural gas.

“EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation generated by natural gas-based power plants to rise from 32 percent in 2017 to 33 percent in 2018 and to 34 percent in 2019,” the report said.

“The forecast generation share from coal in 2018 averages 30 percent, about the same as in 2017, but then falls to 29 percent in 2019,” the report added.

Meanwhile, motorists looking for relief at the gas station will have to wait a bit.

The report sees a gallon of regular gasoline averaging $2.61 this month, $2.69 in March, and $2.73 in April and May, before beginning a slow decline for the balance of the year.

Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

 It’s time to spring forward

Mark your calendar to move your clocks up an hour on Sunday, March 11, as Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins at 2 a.m. on that date. DST, which is designed to add an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, will end at 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 4. U.S. Department of Transportation studies have shown that DST cuts the nation’s energy usage by about 1 percent per day because less power is needed for lighting and appliance use.


March weather milestones

It’s no secret that Arkansas weather can be quite unpredictable at any time of the year. But as winter transitions to spring during March, with the first day of spring on March 20, forecasting becomes an even greater challenge. Here are some examples of March weather historic events from the National Weather Service.

  • Twenty-one years ago, on March 1, 1997, one of the state’s worst tornado outbreaks killed 26 people (25 in Arkansas and one in Tennessee) and injured hundreds of others. The deadliest tornadoes, two of which were rated F4, swept across Interstate 30 from southwest Arkansas to central and northeast Arkansas. Arkadelphia in Clark County, Shannon Hills in Saline County and portions of southern Little Rock sustained some of the most severe damage, with hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Property damage was estimated between $115 million and $120 million.

In the aftermath of the storm, about 20,000 electric co-op members were without power. Hardest hit were South Central Arkansas Electric Co-op based in Arkadelphia; First Electric Cooperative’s Benton District; and Farmers Electric Co-op in Newport.

  • The most active year for tornadoes in Arkansas was 1999, with 107 tornadoes spawned. It was a La Niña year, which means the water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean was cooler than normal. The second most active year for twisters was 2008, also a La Niña year, with 81.
  • The largest hailstone recorded in Arkansas to date was 5 inches in diameter. It fell near Newark in Independence County during the tornado outbreak of Jan. 21-22, 1999.
  • On March 4, 1989, up to 12 inches of snow fell in northwest Arkansas, with lesser amounts in central portions of the state. There was much damage to chicken houses.
  • A late winter snowstorm hit north-central and northeast Arkansas on March 8, 1994, and dumped up to 18 inches of snow.
  • Tornadoes touched down at Delight in Pike County along a line to Collegeville in southwestern Pulaski County on March 17, 1927, killing 11 people. The next day, a tornado killed 24 when it hit Green Forest in Carroll County.
  • High temperatures reached above 90 degrees in most of the western and northern parts of the state on March 12, 1989.
  • On March 28, 1975, a tornado killed seven people in Warren in southeast Arkansas.

Severe weather tip

For many years, people were told to open windows if a tornado was near, but that is no longer advised. It was believed that rapidly falling pressure would cause homes and businesses to expand and explode. But research has shown that powerful rotating winds, not pressure drops, cause the most damage. To open your windows would allow the wind and flying debris to flow more freely through a home and cause damage and injuries.