The Coldest Day in Baton Rouge

Dated: January 15 2024

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As the current arctic spell grips Baton Rouge, many residents are curious about its comparison to the city's coldest spells on record. While it may not break any records, this extended freeze is certainly noteworthy and will be memorable. Let's delve into the historical data and explore the fascinating world of freezing temperatures in Baton Rouge.

Throughout its history, Baton Rouge has experienced bone-chilling temperatures. The all-time record low of 2° was set on February 13, 1899, closely followed by the second-lowest temperature of 7° the next day. In more recent times, the two lowest readings were 8° on December 23, 1989, and 9° on January 21, 1985.

But what about the coldest spells? Determining the coldest spell depends on how one defines it. The current forecast predicts a hard freeze in the low to mid 20s for Baton Rouge, followed by a light freeze on Saturday morning. This means that the city will experience seven consecutive calendar days with freezes, which is a significant stretch but not unprecedented.

To find the longest consecutive run of freezing temperatures, we need to look back to February 2011 when Baton Rouge endured an eight-day freeze. However, even during these extended runs, the temperature often climbed above freezing for several hours during the day.

The real impact of a freeze becomes more serious when the temperature remains at or below freezing for an extended number of hours. Long-duration freezes, even if the temperatures are only a few degrees below 32°, can cause significant damage. Ice at 30° is just as potentially destructive as ice at 15°.

Considering this, we examined those rare events when the temperature stayed at or below freezing for 60 hours or more. Fortunately, such prolonged freezing spells are relatively uncommon in south Louisiana.

Unfortunately, hourly data for Baton Rouge prior to the 1940s is unavailable, making it challenging to accurately determine the duration of historical freezes. However, it is highly likely that the "Great-Grandaddy" freeze of February 1899 would display the longest consecutive run of freeze hours if the data were available.

Notable freezes in Baton Rouge's history include the bitterly cold spells in January 1962 and December 1989. These freezes were only briefly interrupted by a few hours above freezing before the temperature dropped back below, adding to the arctic misery. Many residents still vividly remember the "Exxon explosion freeze" of December 1989, which caused windows to shatter miles away from the plant.

While the current freeze may not break records, it has brought tragedy and infrastructure issues to the region. House fires and utility problems have plagued Baton Rouge during this extended freeze, leaving a lasting impact on the community.

The current arctic spell in Baton Rouge is a significant event, but it falls short of being a record-setter. Nevertheless, its effects will be memorable, and it serves as a reminder of the challenges that freezing temperatures can bring. Stay warm and safe during this chilly period! Experience the coldest spells in Baton Rouge's history.

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Sara Fields

I enjoy helping the agents in my office grow. With 10 years of experience in the Baton Rouge Real Estate Industry (including 4 years as a specialized buyers' agent and 6 years as a Real Estate Title R....

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