Cool enough for you? Fronts bring break from the heat

You might not have noticed, what with the typical Louisiana heat and humidity, but three cold fronts in July pushed Baton Rouge to some atypical low temperatures.

And for that record relief, we can thank the Canadians.

“We’ve gotten a reprieve with this blast of Canadian air that’s found its way all the way down through the coast of Louisiana,” said Barry Keim, the state climatologist.

As of Thursday, July temperatures in the Baton Rouge area averaged 81.1 F, which is 1.9 degrees lower than the average, said Andrew Ansorge, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell.

This July also broke three records for temperature and rainfall.

On July 18, the Baton Rouge area hit a “lowest maximum,” or the lowest high for that date on record, at 79. The closest before that was in 1906, and that was a balmy 82, Ansorge said.

July 18 also set a record 3.57 inches of rainfall for that date. The day before was the coldest July 17 in Baton Rouge on record, with a low dipping to 62.

A single cold front in July would be an odd event in south Louisiana — but this July, the region had three, and another may be rolling in early this August, said Roger Erickson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.

The unusually cool weather was spurred by colder, drier air that came across the Great Plains from Canada, Keim said.

Cold fronts usually stall before they reach the state — humid air from the Gulf of Mexico dominates southeast Louisiana in the summer, Keim said. It takes a large amount of dense cold air from the north to waft such a great distance and then disrupt the pattern of warm, humid air already in the area.

But cold fronts have traveled great distances before. In the winter, fronts have even come from Siberia, sending temperatures in south Louisiana down into the teens, Keim said.

“To get enough cold to cause three cold fronts, it takes a pretty good shot of cold air to do that,” Ansorge said. “And to do it three times is pretty uncommon.”

However uncommon it may be, local business managers have been relieved.

“We were really expecting a much hotter summer than this,” said Joseph Prine, site manager at Benny’s Car Wash & Oil Change on Airline Highway. During the hot summers, Prine keeps a close eye on his workers in case one turns pale or wobbles, and he makes sure they sit out of the sun and collect themselves. Prine also has water fountains and Gatorade coolers nearby.

Evan Pyle has also felt the difference. As the owner of Expert Window Cleaning, he and his staff clean windows at One American Place, Tiger Stadium, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, The Advocate and a host of other buildings around the city. For some of the windows at Tiger Stadium, he said, he has to rappel and hang from heights of about 160 feet in order to reach them.

“I don’t know if we would have held up under last year’s weather,” Pyle says of working on the stadium.

The sun and heat are some of his team’s greatest obstacles: When sun shines directly onto glass, the heat becomes unbearable. He and his crew work 10-hour shifts starting at 5:30 a.m. to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Pyle he doesn’t believe such good weather, relatively speaking, could last. “I figure there’s always a payback,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop now. It’s Louisiana.”