The winter has been slow getting started, to the dismay of propane dealers. In its earnings call last week, the major retailer AmeriGas blamed unusually warm weather for cutting into sales over the last three months of the year — a complaint heard elsewhere in the industry. But the winter has since turned nasty, dumping historic quantities of snow on the East Coast this January, with no sign of relenting.
Now it’s the Midwest’s turn. A blizzard is trudging across the plains and the Midwest — the country’s propane belt, if you will — from Oklahoma to Michigan. The National Weather Service has issued the blunt warning: “Do not travel! Stay inside!” Along with near whiteout snow, the weathermen expect winds to reach 40 mph.
“Folks should batten down the hatches and hold on,” Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon, advised the public.
So with millions of people huddled indoors and thermostats cranked up, propane consumption should get a boost. The Midwest is currently sitting on a healthy stockpile of the gas, though it will be interesting to see how a hard snowfall affects the regional demand, and by extension retail prices when the great storm is over.
Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. Help us out, little guy!