BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Thursday was another one of the "upside down" temperature days, with highs coming in the morning hours followed by a slow but fairly-steady fall in temperatures through the afternoon and evening. The clearing made for a nice afternoon sky with the welcomed return of sunshine but those clear skies and subsiding winds through the evening set the stage for what's coming: a very cold air mass quickly diving south.
By Friday morning, freezing temperatures will extend into the coastal parishes with lows in the 20°s anticipated as far south as Donaldsonville. We're expecting freezing temps to last as much as 6 to 9 hours around the greater BR metro area with communities near and north of the LA/MS state line running at or below freezing for as many as 10 to 12 hours (if not more).
As a reminder, the National Weather Service defines a 'hard freeze' for our viewing area as temperatures at or below 26°F for several hours -- long enough to freeze (exposed) pipes. Friday morning temperatures could meet those 'hard freeze' criteria for communities along the LA/MS state line and into Mississippi, but it doesn't look like it will get cold enough long enough for just about everyone south of the state border.
Blue skies continue through the day Friday, but it stays quite cool with highs for the Red Stick struggling to reach the upper 40°s. Then comes another freeze for Saturday morning: we expect temperatures to be just about as cold for Saturday morning as they will be on Friday morning, with freeze durations much the same as well.
Thankfully, in this 'Arctic' go-around, the bitterly-cold dome of high pressure will shuttle-off to the east rather quickly rather than linger over the central U.S., taking the coldest air with it.
So we say goodbye to the early January freezes -- although our "Adios!" will be a very brief one.
Our next cold front will be developing over the Central and Southern Plains by early Saturday. With the cold high-pressure center having shifted to our east and the front to our northwest, a steady 'return flow' sets up by or before mid-day on Saturday. That means a marked warm-up thanks to inflow off the Gulf along with a fairly rapid rise in dew points (low-level moisture). Look for highs on Saturday around 60° or so under fair skies across metro BR, with mild Sunday morning lows in the upper 40°s to low 50°s.
By late Saturday or very early Sunday, the eastbound Plains cold front will advance into and across the Bayou State -- we're going with "rain likely" on Sunday. At this time we are not anticipating an active weather event with the frontal passage but we'll keep a watch on the severe weather indicators as Sunday draws nearer.
Behind Sunday's front, yet another Arctic air mass means another round of freezes, and our extended guidance is suggesting that Tuesday morning could be the coldest morning of the season thus far. As of this afternoon, we're forecasting a low of 25° for Baton Rouge on Tuesday morning, with freezes also for Monday's and Wednesday's sunrises. In fact, if Metro Airport (BTR) does drop to 25° or below next week, that would not only be the coldest morning of the current winter but also the lowest minimum recorded at BTR since February 2011!
Following the run of morning freezes, the WAFB extended outlook then calls for yet another warming trend to begin on Wednesday afternoon, taking WAFB neighborhoods back into the 60°s by Thursday.
And so the winter temperature roller-coaster continues . . .