By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta
** As a reminder, this week is SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK for Louisiana. Do you have a NOAA Weather Radio? **
While a number of southeast Louisiana sites missed out on the weekend freezes -- like much of New Orleans, Grand Isle and most of the state’s coastal wetlands - - most of the WAFB viewing area reported freezes on multiple mornings. Sunday was the coldest, with lows dropping into the low 20°s near and north of the LA/MA state line. Metro Airport slipped to 26°, with upper 20°s as far south as Houma (Terrebonne P.) and Franklin (St. Mary P.). Even Galliano (Lafourche P.) dipped briefly to 31°. Without question, we saw the lowest temperatures of the season over the past weekend.
It may be March, but winter’s not over until Mother Nature says so. Baton Rouge has recorded a March freeze during 3 of the previous 10 winters (2002-03 thru 2011-12) -- so a March freeze is not all that uncommon. However, our rule-of-thumb is that Baton Rouge’s traditional winter/spring freeze threat typically ends around mid-March. As a reminder to you weather trivia buffs, the latest freeze ever for Baton Rouge occurred on April 13, 1940, with the only other April freeze (since 1930, at least) occurring on April 4, 1987. In fact, you have to go back to the following winter of 1987-88 to find a Baton Rouge freeze after March 15th.
And boy, did we say “goodbye” to the freezes today. Our mostly sunny skies allowed temps to climb into the 70°s even with the winds through the day. Those winds and the southerly flow are courtesy of a pressure gradient set-up by a cold front to our northwest. That front is slated to sweep through the WAFB viewing area tomorrow.
Normally a spring front would come with showers, storms and the threat of severe weather, but that is just not the case this go-around. While we can expect some showers as the boundary passes, Tuesday’s front will be short on moisture and lifting dynamics. We’re going with just a 30% rain coverage for the viewing area, and even those that get rain will see little more than a sprinkle or two.
The key role that Tuesday’s front plays is that it ushers in another round of cool weather, with lows in the 30°s for Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Still, mornings won’t get anywhere near as cold as the past weekend, and while Wednesday afternoon will be on the cool side with highs in the upper 50°s to low 60°s, afternoons will warm steadily afterwards, with highs in the 70°s by or even before the weekend.
And for the time being, the outlook for the weekend is a good one, with only a slight chance of rain on Sunday.