NEW YORK - The U.S. Northeast, the nation's top heating oil consuming region, will face colder-than-normal weather during the early winter period, private forecaster WSI Corp. predicted on Monday.

The November to January outlook, following the mildest winter on record last year, comes as U.S. energy companies built up healthy inventories of heating oil and natural gas ahead of seasonal cold weather.

"WSI expects this period (November-January) to average cooler than normal in major cities of the Northeast and parts of the southern Rockies and Southwest," WSI said in a statement.

Several government and private forecasters are now forecasting normal or colder-than-normal weather for the Northeast through January.

States in the Northeast should see warmer-than-normal temperatures in November before cooling down in December and January. The warmer November would help companies build up natural gas inventories ahead of winter, WSI said.

"Warmer weather in November may extend the injection season and put additional pressure on physical gas prices as there is little room for excess gas due to the extremely full storage, expected at 3.5 to 3.6 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) by early November," WSI said.

Other U.S. regions, including the Southeast, were expected to be warmer-than-normal from November to December, WSI forecast.

"Warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected across the rest of the northern United States and the Southeast," WSI said.