Despite knowing school was canceled Friday, Christopher Honore said he woke up early to see if the weather forecast of snow came true, and he wasn’t disappointed.
“It was worth it,” the 14-year-old said, scooping up a handful of the wet, heavy snow — perfect for snowballs — before taking aim at his 11-year-old sister. She squealed in delight, seemingly unaware of the bulky boot on her right foot for her fractured ankle.
“It’s still fun,” Tayelor Honore said, grinning. “This is one of the first (snows) in my memory. ... I freaked out this morning!”
The Honore siblings formed a triangle with their aunt Kalisha James, 26, snowballs flying among the three of them in their front yard in the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood.
“Have a snowball fight, then hot chocolate, then maybe another snowball fight. ... That’s a good snow day right there,” Christopher Honore said.
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The Honores were not alone in taking advantage of the unusual snow day for the Baton Rouge area, with about 2 to 5 inches blanketing the region, said Gavin Phillips, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Slidell. The weather service determined 5 inches fell in Donaldsonville and the town of Livingston, 4.5 inches in Prairieville and about 3 inches in Baton Rouge.
Deelee Morris said she woke up and saw on her phone it was snowing, but didn’t quite believe it until she looked outside.
State Police and Baton Rouge police both said they responded to a higher number of roadway crashes early Friday than usual, but most incidents were taken care of by late in the day. However, they still asked that drivers use caution, especially as temperatures were expected to drop into the night.
“People need to slow down and stay off the roadways if it’s not necessary for them to travel,” said State Police spokesman Senior Trooper Bryan Lee. He said they have worked with the Department of Transportation and Development to put down sand and road treatments to prepare for ice, and continue to watch the weather.
Officials said they will be monitoring roadways and bridges into Friday night and beyond to determine if they remain safe to use.
“We’re going into (Friday night) recognizing there’s going to be water on the roads that has the strong potential to become ice,” said Rowdy Gaudet, assistant chief administrative officer for East Baton Rouge Parish.
Below-freezing temperatures expected to set in after sunset Friday could create icy road conditions into the morning on Saturday, officials said.
One of the main issues that accompanied the winter weather Friday were power outages across the region. Entergy said more than 66,000 of its customers lost power Friday, with the bulk of the outages in Tangipahoa Parish. As of about lunchtime Friday, DEMCO said there were nearly 17,600 households without electricity, which represented about 16 percent of its customers.
The accumulated weight of snow and ice on power lines and branches led to widespread power outages, officials said.
“We’re seeing that the system is pushing through now and that’s causing temperatures to rise a little,” said David Latona, a DEMCO spokesman. “That’s causing a little bit of melt and giving relief to the trees carrying the weight of the snow.”
Latona said the power outages were spread across DEMCO’s seven-parish service area, but Livingston Parish had the highest numbers of affected customers because of the co-op’s share of the market. Nearly 8,800 households in Livingston were without power, he said.
“We expect to have a lot of this restored today, because there’s no equipment damage,” he said. “The outages are just caused by contact and stress on the line. Our crews are out in full force clearing limbs and trees.”
As of 7 p.m. Friday, Entergy said power had been restored to more than 25,000 of the 72,300 Louisiana customers experiencing power outages. A team of about 700 will continue working to restore power to the remaining 47,000 customers in areas hit hardest by weather, specifically Tangipahoa, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes.
Power is expected to be restored to 95 percent of customers affected in the Baton Rouge metro area and southwest Louisiana by midnight Saturday, but some customers in heavily affected areas in East Baton Rouge will not have power restored until late afternoon Saturday.
[RELATED: Click here to view Entergy's outage map.]
Other restoration estimates:
-- Customers in Amite, Kentwood, Independence and Roseland in Tangipahoa Parish should expect restoration to be complete by noon on Sunday.
-- Power has been restored to all main feeders in Hammond, but scattered outages in rural areas may not have power restored until 7 p.m. on Saturday.
-- Customers in Ponchatoula should expect restoration to be complete by noon on Saturday, but restoration in rural areas may not be restored until noon on Sunday.
-- Power has been restored in Albany in Livingston Parish, but scattered outages in rural areas may not have power restored until 7 p.m. on Saturday.
-- Power has been restored to all main feeders in Springfield, but scattered outages in rural areas may not have power restored until 7 p.m. on Saturday.
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“We’re bringing in additional crews into the areas,” Entergy spokesman Mike Burns said, noting that Entergy had brought in employees from other parts of the state and Arkansas to help restore power. “In the hardest-hit areas, we’re working as quickly and safely as we can.”
As of 7 p.m. Friday, Entergy said power had been restored to more than 25,000 of the 72,300 Louisiana customers experiencing power outages due…
Troy Peterson’s Capital Heights home lost power about 4:30 a.m. and was still without about 11 a.m., when he said the inside temperature already had dropped to 40 degrees.
“We left,” Peterson, 48, said. “Fortunately we have a car to drive around in to stay warm."
With his wife and two children, Peterson said they were able to enjoy the snow day — visited a park, enjoyed snowy views — but he was hopeful they would have power restored by the evening.
Mickey Quigley, 23, said he also woke up without power on his Eugene Street home, so he walked with roommates to Garden District Coffee, and without good reason to head home, they diverted to the hill at City Park to try sledding.
“We didn’t come prepared at all,” Quigley said, laughing at the plastic yard sign he was attempting to use for sledding. “This is probably the only time I’m going to be able to go snow sledding. ... It’s pretty cold and wet but is freaking awesome.”
When Mike Doerr, a Michigan-area native, was a kid, he walked through the snow nearly a mile every day to go to school, he said. Sometimes, he even walked backward to keep the stiff wind out of his face.
“My mom said, ‘Y’all go ahead and walk. Y’all will make it,’ ” he recalled Friday morning in his snowy front yard.
Even in those harsh Michigan winters, he remembers only one snow day during his school career before he moved to Baton Rouge at age 10.
So, Friday’s unusual Louisiana snow day was no big deal for the former Midwesterner. Doerr, 47, was showing his teenage son, Harper, how the snowman thing is done.
They had a sizable snowman built in 20 minutes and were working on another about 8 a.m. Friday on Woodland Ridge Boulevard. The banker said he decided to go to work a little late Friday and take advantage of the morning snow.
“I figure how many times do you get a chance to ... you know. I’ll miss three hours of work. I’ll get that back, but I’ll never get this back,” he said.
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Friday’s snow brought out residents who would typically be at work and school for walks and to mingle with their neighbors on the unusually quiet streets, framed in white. Normally, heavy carpool traffic from Episcopal High School would keep these roads busy.
Carl Ravey, 50, was putting a hat and a Saints flag on a large snowman in his front yard while his adult children looked on.
“We have a little one back there,” Ravey said, referring a snowman to his back yard, “and then he decided let’s go bigger.”
“Yeah,” Ravey’s 21-year-old son, Kendall Ravey, added, “You know, go big or go home, right?”
The LSU Parade Ground, blanketed with snow, boasted several snowmen on Friday.
Sophomores Rachel Green, Gavin Rapa and Michael Manchese worked together to build one of them, a good-sized snowman standing about 4 feet tall.
Green, of Arkansas, and Rapa, of New Jersey, had some snow-building experience.
“We’re the veterans,” Rapa said with a laugh.
“He was manual labor,” Green joked, pointing to her friend Manchese, who’s from New Orleans.
Not too far away, across the LSU Lakes, Deelee Morris said she woke up and saw on her phone it was snowing but didn’t quite believe it until she looked outside.
“Get up!” Morris, 41, said she yelled early Friday morning to her family. “This doesn’t happen very often.”
Morris and her 4-year-old daughter Violet built a tiny princess snowman in their front yard on Ferndale Avenue.
“I told her, ‘Let’s go get stuff for the face,' (and Violet said), ‘Well let’s get a crown,’ ” Morris said, laughing.
It’s Violet’s first time seeing snow, Morris said.
“It’s incredible,” Violet told her mom, then looked up and the small flakes still falling, sticking her tongue out. “The snow dropped on my head!”
Every once in a while Mother Nature rewards the Baton Rouge area and south Louisiana with a little snow.
It was a similar scene in Prairieville, where 11-year-old Madeline Giesler got outside with her mom and dad, Miriam and Michael Geisler, for a snowball fight and construction of a not completely seasonal snowman.
They built a three-sectioned snowman sporting a straw hat, carrot nose, black buttons made of pipe foam insulation, and gloves. He was flanked by a boogie board and life jacket.
“He’s ready for summer,” Miriam Giesler joked.
Advocate staff writers David J. Mitchell, Ellyn Couvillion, Joe Gyan and Tim Boone contributed to this report.
We asked, you answered. Readers from across the Baton Rouge area have shared their snow day images. Enjoy!