Monday, March 3, 2014

Chilly, Damp for Mardi Gras

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- Freeze Warning for the northern half of the viewing area tonight
- a "weather-unfriendly" Fat Tuesday: stays cold and gets wet
- warming trend and drying out later in the work week

Winter Returns!

Normally South Louisiana residents look forward to a March Mardi Gras -- but maybe not so much this year!  While we might expect milder temperatures for the final days of Carnival in March, 2014's revelers that take to the streets over will be demonstrating their commitment to the international party tonight and tomorrow.  Such a shame to close out the big two days so cold after such a nice weekend – almost hard to believe that we enjoyed 70°s and 80°s for Saturday and Sunday!
Like it or not, Ol’ Man Winter is back!  Today's official high will go down in the books at 70° but that will be awfully misleading since that temp occurred near midnight.  As expected, a cold front moved through the viewing area during the pre-dawn hours.  While there were thunderstorms associated with the front's passage, we dodged the severe weather threat that had us concerned.
Arrival of yet another cold Arctic air mass behind the early-morning front was apparent almost immediately this morning.  Temps dropped from the mid 60°s to the mid 40°s at Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport between 1:00am and 5:00am, and have hovered near 40° for the better part of the day.  Even the afternoon sunshine did little to warm things up, and that's setting us up for a very cold night and early Tuesday.

Freeze Warning Early Wednesday

The clouds will return later this evening and tonight, with a Freeze Warning going into effect for the northern half of the WAFB viewing area for Tuesday morning, officially between 2am and 8am.  Lows are expected to dip to around 30° for the Red Stick - - colder still to the north and east of Baton Rouge.  Break out the comforters and crank the heat back up again!
This won't be a pipe-buster of a freeze, but it could 'clip' some of the tender exposed vegetation and newly budded plants if you don't protect them.

Winter Weather Advisory on Mardi Gras?!

And from the "you don't see this very often" about a Winter Weather Advisory for parts of south Louisiana on Mardi Gras? The advisory currently includes areas from Lafayette to Lake Charles and northward to Alexandria. There is the potential for some light freezing rain and/or sleet in these areas on Tuesday morning.
While metro Baton Rouge and most of our viewing area are not included in the advisory, a little freezing rain or sleet can't be ruled out early on Tuesday, particularly if precipitation begins earlier than currently forecast. It will be a close call, so keep an eye on the morning weather.
Tuesday stays cool, with highs struggling to reach the 40°s.  Add in a good chance for showers thanks to a disturbance heading our way from the west and you have the formula for a rather unpleasant time outdoors for Fat Tuesday’s parades.  So if you are headed out for the beads tomorrow, be sure to dress warmly and take the necessary rain gear!

Extended Outlook

Baton Rouge heads back down into the low to mid 30°s for Ash Wednesday morning, and communities north and east of the Capital City will flirt with a second light freeze.  Thankfully, a warming trend begins on Wednesday, although we are keeping a 30% rain chance in the Wednesday forecast. 
Rains should end by or before Thursday morning, with a mostly sunny Friday and continued warming into the weekend.

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