Fall freezes getting later in Baton Rouge
Fall fanatics along the Gulf Coast have been asking, “shouldn’t it be cooler by now?”
Meanwhile, warm weather lovers have nothing to complain about.
Since September 1, temperatures have run 2.9° above average in Baton Rouge.
A ridge dominating the Eastern United States has kept numbers up through November with the Capital City more than 5.5° warmer than usual.
The numbers are impressive given the gloomy, cloudy and rainy weather that has played out across Louisiana since the beginning of the month.
Surely, it has been a victory for fans of flip-flops in the fall—especially when considering the previous two editions of the eleventh month. In 2013, and 2014 particularly, November was unusually cold in Louisiana.
In 2014, the Capital City was a remarkable 5.8° below average for the month with five freezes and four mornings in the 20s. It was extra scary for Southerners when a Halloween cold front helped November lead off with three mornings in the 30s.
Laughable by northern cold season standards, let’s put these numbers into perspective. Since 1970, November in Baton Rouge averages a high around 71° and a low of about 48°. Since records began at Baton Rouge Metro Airport in 1931, the first freeze has occured, on average, around November 28.
A low temperature in the 30s usually occurs within the first ten days of the month, but the latest forecast models show no sign of that through the third week.
El Nino can't be blamed for this turnaround. In fact, a fall and winter featuring an El Nino tends to bring cooler temperatures. Fluctuations from cooler to warmer than average one year to the next are hardly out of the ordinary. However, gradual changes in the weather pattern over multiple decades are more noteworthy.
If trends of the last 35 years continue, a November like 2015, and not 2014, will become the norm. At least in Baton Rouge, there is a gradual upward trend of average temperatures in November.
Cold weather crusaders looking for the cooler, crisp temperatures will be even more upset by this next trend.
Let us reevaluate some of the freeze statistics in greater detail. From 1951 – 1980, the average first freeze occurred on November 21 in Baton Rouge. But, from 1981 – 2010 the average first freeze fell on November 28.
So in the last 60 years, the first freeze seems to be occurring later and later.
Is the cool season crumbling along the Gulf Coast?
Breaking the data set from 1951 into two 30 year intervals shows that the time from first freeze to last freeze is also shrinking.
From 1951 – 1980 Baton Rouge averaged 93 days from the first to the final freeze. From 1981 – 2010 that mark dropped to 88 days.
So fall fanatics along the Gulf Coast, yes, it should be cooler by now.
And this will give warm weather lovers something to complain about—a longer mosquito season!
Let me know what you think!