It should come as no surprise to learn last winter was a cold and long one.

And it also should come as no surprise that because your furnace was running frequently, Questar, parent company of Mountain Fuel Supply Co., delivered more natural gas in the first quarter of 1989 and had higher earnings as a result.Company officials said the temperature was 10 percent colder last winter than the winter of 1987-88 and 13 percent colder than normal which resulted in the company showing a net income of $28.1 million or $1.47 per share, compared to net income of $26.9 million or $1.38 per share for the same period a year ago.

Mountain Fuel, which provides retail natural gas distribution service to Utah and southwestern Wyoming, had a 9 percent increase in natural gas distributed in the three-month period compared to the same period a year ago, company officials said.

Residential and commercial sales increased 9 percent while industrial deliveries increased 7 percent. Another factor in the higher deliveries was a 3 percent growth over a year ago as a result of the steady growth in the utility's new central and southwestern Utah service area.

Mountain Fuel's net income in the three-month period increased from $15.5 million to $17.4 million.

Questar Pipeline Co., an interstate natural gas transmission subsidiary, had net income of $9.2 million in the first quarter compared to $8.8 million a year ago. Net income for Questar's oil and gas exploration and production operations was $2.3 million for the three months compared to $2.8 million a year ago.

Reduced production, caused by a normal decline in older fields and temporary production problems, accounted for the lower earnings, company officials said. The full impact of the recent oil price increases wasn't reflected in the first quarter results.

Questar's other operations had a $919,000 loss during the quarter, which is attributed to higher corporate debt costs and research and development expenses and reduced brick sales. The loss in the comparable quarter a year ago was $345,000.

R. D. Cash, Questar chairman, president and chief executive officer said, "Our first quarter 1989 performance illustrates the significant impact of weather on gas distribution and transmission operations, and we are pleased with our customer growth and gas marketing programs."

"Conditions in the oil and gas exploration and production side of our business appear to be improving, with significantly higher oil prices in recent months. Gas demand nationally is rising, especially with the growing recognition that gas can help address the nation's environmental problems. Gas prices at the wellhead should begin to increase slowly, setting the stage for improved financial results over time," Cash said.