Freezing temps make for one of coldest extended duration events in 50 years

Wind chill alerts (Source: WAFB)
Wind chill alerts (Source: WAFB)
7-day forecast (Source: WAFB)
7-day forecast (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - WARNING! Just because you didn't have trouble with your pipes Monday morning does not mean that you are safe for Tuesday morning.

Monday evening's freeze will extend through Tuesday morning. It will be a few degrees colder for a few hours longer than Monday morning's event for most WAFB communities. In addition, Monday morning's freeze was preceded by a day of temperatures above freezing. Most or all of the heat that was stored prior to falling below freezing on New Year's Eve has been lost. Your pipes are starting this night off MUCH colder than they started Sunday night!

After just a few hours above freezing Monday afternoon, the temperature at Baton Rouge's Metro Airport (BTR) dropped to 32° by 5 p.m. By Tuesday morning, the airport readings will dip into the teens, the first time to drop below 20° since January 7, 2014. The First Alert Storm Team is anticipating 18 or more consecutive hours of freezing temperatures at BTR through the night and Tuesday morning with readings at or below 20° for six hours or more.

It's worth noting that some WAFB neighborhoods near and north of the LA/MS border did not climb above freezing Monday. For them, the current freeze began Sunday evening and will continue into Tuesday afternoon, a period exceeding 40 consecutive hours!

Metro Airport's record low for January 2 is 19°, set back in 1928. That record is likely to be broken by Tuesday's sunrise.

Monday morning's freeze, which ended 2017 and opened 2018, lasted more than 16 hours. In addition to Tuesday morning's prolonged freeze, the First Alert Forecast calls for lows below 25° for Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday mornings. That will be five consecutive days with minimums under 25°. In addition, the forecast calls for freezes at Metro Airport potentially lasting for 12 hours or more for each of those three days.

Areas north and east of metro Baton Rouge can expect slightly lower minimums with slightly longer freeze durations for each of the next four mornings.

This Arctic Outbreak is rare indeed, but not a record.

However, there hasn't been a spell of five consecutive days below 25° since January 1962, the winter that students walked on the LSU Lakes. That 1962 event also covered five consecutive days. In fact, there have been two times with six consecutive days at or below 25° (Dec. 1929 and Feb. 1909) and two times with seven consecutive days (Jan. 1940 and Dec. 1901).

In recent weeks, the First Alert Team has referenced the Christmas Arctic Outbreak of December 1989. Without question, that event was more severe, with more than 60 consecutive freeze hours at BTR and readings falling into the single digits at Metro Airport. However, there were only four consecutive days with lows at or below 25°.

In effect, this week will not be a record for the capital region, but it is certain to be historic, likely one of the coldest extended duration events in more than 50 years.

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