Icy roads snarl traffic; reprieve to last 2 days
After a day that never made it above freezing, punctuated with periods of rain, sleet and sometimes snow, Baton Rouge residents woke up Saturday to sunny skies and the possibility of temperatures warming up to the 50s.
Sunday will be even warmer with a high temperature of 63 and an expected low of 47 that evening.
Roads and bridges started opening Saturday morning, as the sun rose, temperatures heated up and winter loosened its grip.
Enjoy the warmer weather while it lasts, because another cold front is headed toward the Baton Rouge area and could bring a slight chance of rain, freezing rain and sleet Monday night when temperatures drop to 29, according to the National Weather Service.
That will kick off a string of frigid mornings with a low of 21 on Wednesday, 24 on Thursday and 37 on Friday morning.
“Enjoy the weekend while you can,” said Barry Keim, state climatologist.
A similar pattern of warmer weather over the weekend followed by much colder weather during the week is repeated in Lafayette and New Orleans. Temperatures in Lafayette are expected to get down to 28 degrees Tuesday morning and 24 degrees Wednesday morning while New Orleans can expect temperatures down to 34 degrees Tuesday morning and 27 degrees Wednesday morning.
However, this next cold snap shouldn’t bring the problems that Thursday and Friday’s weather brought to most of south Louisiana. Throughout Friday, people trying to drive in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes were confronted with widespread road closures because of ice forming on many bridges and elevated roadways that make up Louisiana’s highway system. Drivers that did venture out were frequently detoured to surface streets, which caused backups and delays as people tried to get around town despite law enforcement asking people to stay off the roads.
As a result, law enforcement across south Louisiana responded to multiple wrecks throughout the day Friday even though there were widespread closures at schools and universities, governmental offices and Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency.
The results of the wintery weather were hard to forecast beforehand, Keim said, and it was uncertain even if any precipitation would fall at all.
“I don’t want to say this is a worst-case scenario, but it’s pretty bad,” Keim said Friday as law enforcement continued to struggle with traffic problems.
The highest temperature for the day was 32 degrees and that was taken near midnight just before the temperature started to fall. For most of the morning and afternoon, the temperature hovered between 27 and 29 degrees.
Although having a high temperature at 32 degrees or below is unusual, it’s not unheard of for Baton Rouge, he said. There have been 28 days since 1930 that have had a high temperature of 32 degrees or less with the coldest high temperature occurring on Jan. 11, 1962 when it only got to 21 degrees, Keim said.