Get prepared for the big freeze on Thursday

Get prepared for the big freeze on Thursday

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A rain-free forecast through Friday is great news for our regional rivers, allowing water levels to fall for all of our area waterways. In fact, just about everyone is ready for a run of dry weather.

This week's dry spell comes at a price, however, in the form of much colder days through the work week. Some WAFB neighborhoods experienced a brief freeze Monday morning and many of us will see another freeze for Tuesday's sunrise. But those will be little more than "dress rehearsals" for the BIG freeze that arrives on Thursday. We're on target not just for the for the coldest week of this winter thus far, but the coldest run of days since last January. (You may remember the bitterly cold snap during the third week of November when Baton Rouge dropped to 27° on the 19th and McComb hit a bone-chilling 22°, but that even only lasted a couple of days. This cold spell will last much longer.)

A "dry" cold front will march from north-to-south at mid-week, pushing through the WAFB viewing area on Wednesday morning before sun-up. The air ahead of the front will warm a bit, with highs on Tuesday approaching 60° for metro BR and lows for Wednesday morning expected to remain above freezing for most or all WAFB communities. But by mid-day Wednesday, you will notice that a bona fide Arctic air mass has arrived -- very, very cold and very dry. Some WAFB communities won't reach the 50°s on Wednesday afternoon, and once the sun sets on Wednesday, temperatures will begin a rapid plunge.

The full impact of the Arctic air won't be felt until Wednesday evening into Thursday. For now, we're posting metro Baton Rouge lows in the low 20°s for Thursday morning, with lows in the 'teens for some areas along and north of the LA/MS state line. It will be a prolonged "hard freeze" for many WAFB communities -- the first of the season for most of us.

Start planning now to implement freeze precautions: prepare the Pets, tender Plants, exposed Pipes and check on People that you know who may have trouble keeping themselves and their homes adequately warm. Based on our current guidance, this could be a freeze of 12 hours or more for metro Baton Rouge and considerably longer for WAFB's northern viewers.

Some of WAFB's more northern neighborhoods may not get out of the 30°s on Thursday, although there should be enough sunshine and a modest warming to get everyone above freezing during the day. But then it's back to sub-freezing temperatures for most from late Thursday into Friday morning. Temperatures won't drop quite as far for Friday morning -- we're expecting mid to upper 20°s for Friday's morning lows for living from the I-10/12 corridor northward. However, northern WAFB communities should be ready for another brief "hard freeze" and freeze durations for most of the area will be just about as long as those that occurred between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. (Remember, the freeze duration can often be more problematic than the absolute low temperature.)

Many may experience yet another brief freeze for Saturday morning, although we begin a slow warming trend as we head into the weekend and say "goodbye!" to local freezes and the Arctic air. However, the youngsters won't be very happy with our weekend outlook: although Saturday remains mostly dry, at least through the early afternoon, rain returns by Saturday evening and Sunday is looking rather wet.

The National Weather Service recommends having this items available:

*Flashlight and extra batteries;

*Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information;

*Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration;

*Extra prescription medicine;

*Baby items such as diapers and formula;

*First-aid supplies;

*Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove, space heater, properly ventilated to prevent a fire;

*Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly and

*Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets.

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