Winter blast on the bayou
BATON ROUGE - Twice the average number of freezes, four wintry precipitation events and a top ten coldest month headline winter 2013-2014 in Southern Louisiana.
Still unrelenting for some, and as southerners welcome spring with spring-like weather, the WBRZ Weather Center looks back on an undoubtedly harsh winter in Southeast Louisiana.
While astronomical winter begins on December 21 and meteorological winter begins on December 1, Mother Nature didn't wait for the calendar. Baton Rouge was frozen for the first time this winter season on November 13, 2013. The first three days of Thanksgiving week were spent with afternoon highs in the 40s. Thanksgiving Morning bottomed out at 26°, the first of 20 occasions that thermometers would plunge into the 20s.
Relatively speaking, winter weather in December 2013 was fairly benign with only six freezes.
January on the other hand, was downright frigid. Typically an average temperature in January is 51.7°. The 2014 edition was just a chilling 44.4°, making it the 8th coldest January on record in Baton Rouge. For the month, there were 15 freezes. Two mornings, January 7 and January 30, plummeted into the teens. January 7 recorded a new daily record low of 19°. But the colder of the two, 17° on January 30, surprisingly did not set a record low.
Also in January, there were two wintry precipitation events. In the early morning hours of January 24, light sleet and freezing rain would break out across the area. As thermometers held at or below freezing for much of the ensuing day, ongoing drizzle would prompt bridge and interstate closures across the region into the following afternoon. Just a few days later, on January 28, a more significant system, prompted rare winter storm warnings for the entire region. This storm would bring daylong sleet, freezing rain and even some snow, especially for areas north of Baton Rouge. Once again, local infrastructure was shut down for nearly two days.
February offered a comparatively quieter month with six freezes and one surprise snow and sleet event. In the mid-morning hours of February 6, precipitation arriving several hours ahead of schedule fell into a still freezing air mass. The result was one to two hours of light sleet and snow that accumulated to 0.03" in Baton Rouge. A wintry scene it was, though local roadways went unaffected.
Into March, the cold and even icy weather continued. After a weekend in the 80s, Mardi Gras on March 4 would go down as the second coldest on record. A quarter inch of freezing rain accumulated that morning, prompting brief closures on bridges and interstates before the temperature would rise above freezing. Ironically, the afternoon temperature in the 30s would have made it the coldest Mardi Gras on record; however, the temperature rose after dusk. Thus, the 38° record low-high of 1899 still stands (although that Mardi Gras fell on February 14, not March 4).
For the winter, there was an average temperature of 50.7° while in a typical winter the average temperature is 54.8°. Four degrees may not seem like much but over three month time period a four degree departure from average is quite significant. From Early November to Mid-March, 34 freezes were registered. Normal area winters only record 16.
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