Warmer than normal weather throughout much of the United States resulted in the first recorded net natural gas injection during a week in February 2017, says the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration.

For the week that ended February 24, the amount of natural gas in storage in the Lower 48 states increased 7 billion cubic feet (Bcf). While some weeks during March in previous years had recorded injections, net injections of natural gas into storage do not typically occur until at least April, EIA says.

Warm weather led to an unusual injection of natural gas into storage.Warm weather led to an unusual injection of natural gas into storage.Weekly changes in natural gas storage reflect changes in natural gas consumption, production, and, to a lesser extent, trade. Natural gas consumption is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in weather. Not only is natural gas consumed directly by furnaces and boilers in homes and businesses for heating, but natural gas is also used to generate electricity, which then fuels electric heat pumps and radiant heaters.

Temperatures throughout much of the United States have been higher than normal for many weeks this winter. Heating degree days are a standard index of heating needs that are calculated based on deviations relative to a base temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher numbers of heating degree days reflect colder weather.

For the week that ended February 25, there were 98 population-weighted heating degree days for the United States as a whole, a level more typical of mid-April weather. Based on normal weather data for 1971–2000, heating degree days would normally be near 172 for the week ending February 25. Temperatures were especially warm in the Northeast and Midwest, where natural gas heating is common.

EIA says that based on data from 2010–16, weekly changes during the month of February ranged from a net withdrawal of 48 Bcf to a net withdrawal of 243 Bcf. Previously, the earliest net injection of the calendar year occurred during the week ending March 16, 2012.