BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After slipping down into the upper 30s not long after midnight, the official temperature at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) actually rose a couple of degrees well before sunrise Wednesday morning.
In the end, the entire WAFB area dodged a morning freeze, a one-day hiatus from what will be the coldest week of the season thus far and the coldest week for the region in nearly a year. People are strongly encouraged to finalize their preparations now. Exposed pipes, particularly those with a history of freezing, need to be wrapped. If you are really concerned about your pipes possibly bursting, a slow drip or trickle is not all that bad of an idea either. If at all possible, bring the pets indoors. If that's not an option, make sure they have dry bedding and a spot to get out of the wind. Cover the tender plants that can't be moved indoors or, at the very least, move them under the carport if possible. People are also urged to please be very, very careful with space heaters and supplemental heating sources. Remember to turn them off before you head to bed Wednesday night.
Much of the WAFB viewing area recorded freezes on Monday and Tuesday mornings, but as advertised all week, Wednesday night into Thursday morning will be the 'main event.' The area will experience a hard freeze that will extend well south of Baton Rouge, with freezing temperatures expected to reach all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. As expected, the National Weather Service (NWS) has upgraded the prior WATCH to a HARD FREEZE WARNING and as proposed Tuesday, the window of hours has been extended as well. The WARNING goes into effect at 9 p.m. and extends until Thursday at 10 a.m. Metro area lows by Thursday morning will range from the upper teens to low 20s, with mid to upper teens along the Louisiana-Mississippi state line.
However, those lows are only a part of this freeze story, as Baton Rouge could be down at or below freezing as early as 9 p.m. and some neighborhoods will be nearing the lunch hour on Thursday before the freeze ends. Expect freeze durations of 12 to 16 hours for areas along and north of the I-10/12 corridor. And that's not all. The winds will add to the frigid misery, with wind chill numbers that will be as much as 10 degrees or more lower than the readings on the thermometers. Parents take note: prepare the school kids for early morning wind chills at the bus stop that could be as low as the single digits in many places!
Thursday's sunshine will provide only a short break from the freezing temperatures. Some neighborhoods may not get out of the 30s on Thursday and once the sun sets, those temperatures will start back towards freezing. The uncertainty factor for Thursday night into Friday morning will be cloud cover. We know that clouds will be returning and that should limit how cold it gets by Friday morning. For now, we're expecting lows to fall into the upper 20s to near 30 for metro Baton Rouge, which is not nearly as cold as Thursday morning, but still well below freezing. In fact, temperatures are likely to drop to or below freezing even earlier on Thursday evening than they will on Wednesday. Some of the northern communities of the viewing area could be back near or at freezing by the 6 p.m. newscast.
Those predictions mean that while temperatures may not get nearly as cold for Friday morning as they will for Thursday morning, we could again be looking at freeze durations of 10 to 12 hours or more for parts of the viewing area. And, there will be still another freeze to come for Saturday morning. Friday highs will top out in the 40s as another "dry" cold front delivers the week's third surge of cold air to the lower Mississippi Valley. It won't be a repeat of Wednesday night's bitterly cold air mass, but early indications are that Saturday morning's low will dip into the mid to upper 20s for the Red Stick.
We'll final break this run of freezes as we head into Saturday afternoon and Sunday, trading in the dry Arctic and Polar air masses for something a bit milder, but also wetter. We've got high temperatures rebounding into the 50s and 60s for Sunday and Monday, but those warmer readings will be accompanied by a "rain likely" forecast for both days.