Thursday, February 28, 2013

Even Colder into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The high clouds this afternoon were considerably thicker than we had expected for much of south Louisiana.  While they weren’t a rain threat, they certainly managed to block the sunshine -- and that meant a cooler day than expected for most WAFB neighborhoods!
Satellite trends suggest that a consistent high-cloud deck will stay with us through the late afternoon and evening, keeping things on the cool side even for late February.  By Friday morning, many of us will be down in the mid 30°s, with a light brief freeze possible along and north of the LA/MS state line.
Out forecast stays rain-free into the early part of next week, with “COLD!” being the main weather theme through the weekend.  We expect partly cloudy skies for Friday, with fair to mostly-sunny skies for Saturday and Sunday.  But we’re getting a shot of cooler air today and tonight, followed by another dose of Canadian air tomorrow.
For the BR metro area, our forecast calls for lows near freezing on Saturday morning and below-freezing for early Sunday!  Lows will drop to the mid 30°s for Monday morning.

Keep in mind, WAFB communities north and east of Baton Rouge can expect even lower temps, with some of those neighborhoods dipping to or below freezing for each of the next four mornings.
Fortunately, none of these freezes will be prolonged events -- most lasting just a couple of hours at most.  Frankly, we don’t think any of the freezes will be “pipe-wrappers” for anyone in the WAFB viewing area.  But don’t forget the pets -- and some of the plants have been fooled by our mild winter and are a little ahead of their normal blooming schedule.  You might want to consider ways to protect the early buds, especially for the “prized” landscaping.
We’ve talked about the record-setting winter rains, thanks to three straight months of above-average rainfall.  We’ve also talked about the unusually mild winter, at least in terms of the low number of freeze events.  Baton Rouge, for example, has had only 6 “freeze days” this winter, compared to a long-term average of roughly 20 “freeze days” per winter.

Because of that, some folks are asking about the “big chill” this weekend.  For them, we offer this reminder about spring freezes:
On average, there is still a 75% to 80% chance of a freeze after March 1 for communities along and north of the LA/MS state line, with a 50-50 chance even as of mid-March.  For metro Baton Rouge, there is about still a 40% chance of another freeze, on average, after March 1, but those chances do drop off quickly, down to about 20% after March 10.
The bottom line: while this weekend freeze to open March seems out of character based on the pattern of the past few months, it is not all that unusual.

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