Mardi Gras revelers will brave brisk winds and chilly conditions at Tuesday’s parades, the result of a strong and wet cold front that crossed the region late Monday and again proved true that timeless adage: If you don’t like the weather in Louisiana, wait a few minutes and it will change.
For the second straight year, Fat Tuesday paradegoers in New Orleans will be bundling up between throws, as the mercury isn’t expected to climb out of the 40s. Even those temperatures could be misleadingly warm, warned Carl Arredondo, chief meteorologist at WWL-TV, who said wind chills will remain — noticeably so — in the 30s.
The silver lining on this overcast holiday, Arredondo said, is that the precipitation that came with Monday’s front should be an afterthought by the time the Zulu parade begins rolling in New Orleans at 8 a.m.
“If there’s any drizzle around, it will be before about 6 a.m.,” he said. “But dress warmly. It’s going to be cold.”
Bob Wagner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Slidell, said a quarter of an inch of rain or more was expected Monday night as the front pushed through.
Rain chances — along with the specter of gusty, northwest winds — prompted city officials to move up the starting times for the Krewe of Proteus and the Krewe of Orpheus processions and make a slight change to their parade routes.
“For the parades (Tuesday), we’re not expecting much in the way of precipitation,” but the temperatures “will get everybody’s attention,” Wagner said.
“It’s not going to be that wet, but it’s certainly going to be cold,” he added.
Some earlier forecasts had predicted a near-washout on Mardi Gras. But the weather system in question “developed a little quicker than it had looked like earlier in the weekend,” Wagner said Monday, “and the rain and the front are mainly going to be (Monday) instead of Tuesday.”
“It’s been a pretty nice Mardi Gras season up to this point, but just as Carnival is coming to an end, so are the warm temperatures, for a few days,” said Andrew Ansorge, another meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Tuesday’s forecast marked a drastic change from the weather seen for most of Monday, when temperatures in the city crept into the mid-70s.
The frigid forecast is reminiscent of last year’s water-logged holiday, when temperatures hovered in the 30s for much of the day and the city recorded more than a third of an inch of rain.
The coldest Mardi Gras on record occurred on Feb. 14, 1899, which featured a high of 38 degrees and 3 inches of snow that had to be cleared from the streets before Rex could roll, according to the National Weather Service.
Staff writer Daniel Bethencourt contributed to this report. Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.