South Louisiana enjoyed a kinder, gentler summer this year and now slides into the even more pleasant days of fall starting Monday.
Temperatures never rose above 96 degrees in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans and, with the addition of four cold fronts in a six-week period in July and August, residents were treated to more than one fall-like morning.
“The average temperatures were very close to normal,” Barry Keim, state climatologist, said about southeast Louisiana’s weather this summer. “But we just didn’t get very many extreme days.”
Although it’s not unusual for one cold front to come through Louisiana to break up the typically oppressive heat of summer, the multiple cold fronts across the region helped keep extreme hot days at bay, he said.
“It really took the starch out of the summer,” Keim said. “It was a very mild, benign summer.”
Not only was it cooler, but no hurricanes or tropical storms have so far threatened Louisiana’s coast, which was significant as well, he said.
“The lack of extremes this summer is really the story,” Keim said.
Ken Graham, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Slidell, said summer temperatures appeared to be about a half-degree below normal statewide. That may not sound like a lot, but when dealing with a large set of temperatures on an average basis, it is significant.
Statewide, this was the 28th coolest season on record, he said.
“You wouldn’t put it on the front page in a big font,” Graham joked, but it does rank.
What really has stood out, he said, is that the cold front Louisiana experienced didn’t just stall out midstate and dissipate. Instead, the fronts made it all the way to the coast, bringing drier and cooler air to almost all of south Louisiana.
“That part was unusual,” he said.
For forecasters, he said, the thing that also has stood out is the lack of severe weather this year in the form of severe thunderstorms, wind damage or tornadoes. For Graham, seasons without much to worry about can be worrisome.
“That points back to preparedness. We tend to get a little complacent,” he said.
The early peak for severe weather is in the spring, but a second peak occurs starting in November as the region starts to transition into winter. The clash of still warm air with incoming colder air tends to produce an increase in these severe weather events, Graham said.
In Lafayette, temperatures this summer have run slightly below average, but rainfall was much above average, leading to several flash flood events, said Tim Humphrey, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.
“Those have been the real weather story,” he said.