aptopix-deep-freeze.jpeg-1280x960Temperatures across the U.S. Midwest and Northeast will plummet through next week and the cold will linger through the start of March, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodities Weather Group LLC. For the Midwest and Great Lakes region, including Chicago, readings are expected to fall 15 degrees Fahrenheit (8 Celsius) below normal from Feb. 24 to 28, said Rogers, based in Bethesda, Maryland. In the Northeast, temperatures are forecast to be at least 8 degrees lower than the norm. “The overnight modeling mostly strengthened next week’s cold outbreak, especially for the Midwest, also for the Deep South and East Coast at times,” Rogers said. “We now have two days with sub-zero low temperatures for Chicago, which is impressive since the calendar is about to roll forward into March.” Below-normal temperatures in the high-population areas of the Northeast and Midwest boost energy demand as homes and businesses seek heat. Power generation accounts for 32 percent of U.S. natural gas use, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. About 49 percent of all homes use the fuel for heating. More