Louisiana’s Winter Outlook Updated – Snow in January?
This is Louisiana where we have a love/hate relationship with Mother Nature. We love her bounty and her beauty. But, we'd rather our hurricanes be in a glass in New Orleans than south of Cameron in the Gulf of Mexico.
The climate across much of the state this summer leaned hotter and drier. Lean is putting it mildly. We did have record heat. Many locations across our state are at a severe deficit for rainfall.
As of October 19th one website reported the precipitation for the month of August in the Lafayette, Louisiana area was not even two inches. By the end of the month, the Lafayette area would need to pick up more than three inches of rain to be close to average for the month of October.
Yesterday (10/19/23) the Climate Prediction Center and the National Weather Service updated their long-range winter forecast for the country. The latest forecast now includes the months of November, December, and January. So, for Louisiana that basically covers what we consider to be winter. By the time Mardi Gras rolls around we are usually making trips to the beach and making a Target run in our flip-flops.
That doesn't mean it won't get cold as we move into November. According to the newly issued forecast, the projection for the next three months for Louisiana appears to be something we are used to, namely "about average". In case you're wondering "about average" means low temperatures in the 40s and afternoon temperatures in the 60s.
Now, if you've lived in Louisiana for more than a winter or two you know that an average winter will include a couple of below-freezing spells. Let's hope that Mother Nature doesn't seek to balance out the extremely hot summer with a bitterly cold winter blast.
But for winter to be a real Louisiana problem, namely ice and snow, there has to be precipitation falling on the days when the temperature is at freezing or below. But as you can see from the graphic below, the prediction for the upcoming months does include a better-than-average chance of precipitation.
Granted the chances of frozen precipitation are better along the I-20 corridor than it is along the I-10 corridor. But it does snow in cities like Lake Charles, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge. If memory serves me correctly I think the area's last "significant" winter precipitation event would have been in 2018. But that's not to say some places didn't get a dusting of snow back in 2021 as well.
So, the updated thinking for Louisiana and the southern half of the country in general is this. We should expect a typical winter as far as temperatures go. But, there will also be better chances of rain/wintry precipitation during the forecast period as well.
Whether the falling water falls in the form of rain sleet or snow Louisiana will take it. What we don't need is to make up the rainfall deficit over a short period of time. That could lead to flooding, but a good soaking would be quite welcome.
Meanwhile this weekend across much of Louisiana the thermometer will flirt with 90 degrees on Saturday afternoon. Conditions will also be quite breezy which could exacerbate the state's fire danger. Check your local parish's website to see the status of the burn ban for where you live. And just enjoy the warmth while it's here because eventually, it will get colder, wetter, and browner. Welcome to winter in Louisiana.
Thank goodness for gumbo and food with some "heat".
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Gallery Credit: Jude Walker