U.S. December weather coldest since 2000: Planalytics

With New York's Empire State Building behind her, a woman has her picture taken in the snow in a park along the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey December 31, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States experienced its coldest winter in nine years in December as snow storms swept across the country, private weather forecaster Planalytics said on Monday.

Every region in the United States trended colder than normal, Planalytics said, which helped boost energy prices as consumers nationwide turned up their heating.

“Following the warmest November since 2001, the month of December 2009 ended the coldest since 2000,” Planalytics said on Monday.

The highly populated northeast saw its coldest December since 2005, as did the southeast, Planalytics said. According to the National Weather Service, heating degree days in December for the whole United States were 867, 50 above the norm and 43 more than last year.

Degree days, a measure of departure in the mean daily temperature from 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), are used to reflect demand for energy to heat or cool homes and businesses.

Heating oil prices rose nearly 10 percent in December, to $2.14 per gallon and natural gas prices rose 15 percent to above $5.50 per mmBtu, as consumers turned up the heat in their homes.