Monday :: Dec 20, 2004

Warming Up The Oil Company Boardrooms

by pessimist

Old Man Winter has come to town just a tad early. And is he pissed!

Wind gusting to nearly 100 mph swept across Colorado on Monday, forcing skiers off the slopes, closing highways and peeling the roof of a high school gym while a basketball team practiced inside. Gusts reached 90 mph in Breckenridge and forced the ski resort to shut down a chair lift.

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning along the heavily populated Front Range after 95 mph winds were reported in Superior. Gusts reached 98 mph at Carter Lake near Berthoud and ranged from 79 mph to 85 mph in Louisville, Boulder and Golden. The winds eased as a cold front began to arrive. Temperatures were expected to drop to about 30 degrees by Tuesday.

Remember that 'cheap' oil we have been having? Me neither!

Toronto Stocks Set to Open Higher on Energy, Techs

U.S. light crude dipped slightly, but held above $46 a barrel, as parts of North America were hit by freezing temperatures and oil facilities in the Middle East faced renewed threats of sabotage. Russian oil company Yukos defaulted on some exports, which also helped prices stay above $46. Oil rallied more than $5 a barrel last week and is now less than $10 below October's all-time high.

Remember - I called out a prediction that we will be seeing stories about the elderly freezing to death in their apartments. Here's some of the evidence I draw upon to make this prediction:

Cape Codders left chilled by heating bills

With temperatures below the freezing mark and the price of heating fuel increasing by double digits, many Cape Codders are wondering how they'll get through the winter without breaking the bank.

With the price of home heating oil hovering close to $2 per gallon, "a lot of senior citizens are finding they can't manage," said Sharon Fernandes of the Fuel Assistance Corp. in Plymouth, which covers the Cape. She said Cape applications for assistance went up by 332 households in November, or about 9 percent.

About one-third more people than last year have applied at the Barnstable Senior Center for government-subsidized fuel assistance, said Judy Redd, senior center outreach worker. She said they're afraid that after paying for medications and taxes they won't be able to afford to heat their homes.

"I worry about people saying they have no fuel and no money to buy it," Fernandes said. And with fuel assistance's maximum benefit of $527 this year for the lowest-income customers, she said she worries about "not having the resources to help them." And "at these prices," Fernandes said, "it might be a tank and a half of oil."

"If we get a (weather) repeat of last year, we've got a real problem," said O'Leary, who is chairman of the Joint Committee on Energy.

The federal government level-funded fuel assistance programs this winter, so the onus is on state lawmakers to help their constituents, he said. "We don't want people without heat."

Roughly half the Cape's homes use oil heat, with the other half using gas, according to Galligan.

Analysts say increased demand for gas heat is driving price increases. While increases in the cost of crude oil and a tight inventory are behind the rising heating oil prices.

Here's the most recent (as of post time) data on the first major winter outbreak of the season:

East and South in deep freeze as fall fades in bitter cold and snow

The arctic weather was blamed for one death in Michigan and two traffic deaths in New Jersey by Sunday night. A search continued for the second day Monday for a little boy who had wandered from his Pennsylvania home.

Temperatures from Michigan to Pennsylvania ranged from the teens to below zero, while the Gulf Coast states recorded temperatures in the 20s and 30s as a cold front pushed East and arctic air rushed in behind.

"We feel like we're at the ski slopes instead of Disney World," said Amy Dawkins, 31, an attorney from Rockingham, N.C., visiting Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The cold wave dropped temperatures to near or below freezing in north Florida and into the 40s in central Florida.

North Carolina's Outer Banks got a rare dusting of snow. "We're 22 (degrees) trying to hit 23, so that's the type of day it's been," said National Weather Service meteorologist John Elardo in Newport, N.C.

Blizzard-like conditions were reported for much of Michigan -- and another arctic blast and heavy snow was expected Tuesday.

In New Hampshire, wind chill advisories were in effect for some parts of the state through early Tuesday; forecasters said wind chills could reach 25 below in the northern reaches of the state.

"It's cold out, but it is winter," said Michael Smith, 47, of Berlin, N.H.

Thermometers registered below zero across West Virginia, including minus-2 at Charleston and 14 below at Snowshoe, the National Weather Service said. Bentleyville, Pa., south of Pittsburgh, dropped to 10 below zero, and Greensboro, N.C., posted a record low for Dec. 20 at 9 above. It was minus-4 at Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky.

Farther north, it was 18 below zero at 9 a.m. at Massena, N.Y., with a wind chill of 28 below, the weather service said.

Homeless shelters were near capacity in the Atlanta area, where the temperature dropped to 16 degrees.

Sure is a good thing those Red Staters will have 'moral values' to keep them warm!

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pessimist :: 6:24 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!