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An Arctic front may generate record lows Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in Lafayette, a forecaster said, which he suggested should turn Acadiana’s attention to protecting people, pets and plants.

National Weather Service forecaster Kent Kuyper said the approaching cold is “bizarre” for this time of year, and if it reaches a predicted low of 26 degrees Wednesday morning, it will mark the coldest Nov. 13 since 1950. The record low for that morning is 28 degrees; the November record low is 21 degrees in Lafayette.

“People, pets and plants,” Kuyper said, reflecting on a forecast of a high of 43 Tuesday with winds of 15-25 mph and gusts up to 30 mph – and the threats that those conditions might pose. On Tuesday night, he said, the predicted low of 26 would include winds of 5-15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.

Ben Broussard, spokesman for Catholic Charities of Acadiana, said that St. Joseph Shelter for Men, 405 St. John St., will focus on protecting the most vulnerable people. He said the shelter there, in operation for more than 20 years, is open every night, and those staffing the shelter expect a “bump” in traffic Tuesday night.

“We will absolutely make arrangements for anyone who presents themselves at the St. John campus,” he said, suggesting they show up by 6 p.m. He said women in need of shelter should come to the same address; the staff will find a place for them, probably at a transitional home nearby.

To accommodate up to 100 people at night, Broussard said the staff moves furniture every night to make room for additional mats for sleeping space. He said they used to do that in cases of dangerous weather, including cold and storms, but Catholic Charities decided in April 2018 to prepare St. Joseph Shelter every night.

“Someone sleeping outside is an emergency every night,” Broussard said, because of the threats to homeless people from “harassment, violence and inherent dangers to those sleeping on the street.”

He said that policy has created a deficit of some $300,000 for sheltering, but Catholic Charity’s mission statement is to serve “the most vulnerable.” He said the public can donate to help the shelter program at catholiccharitiesacadiana.org.

Dr. Gene Segura, a veterinarian, said pet owners should heed common sense in sheltering their pets. If it’s too cold for the pet owner to sleep outside, he said, it’s probably too cold for the pet to sleep outside without extra protection.

He said a few dog breeds might be able to withstand freezing weather outdoors — perhaps labs or huskies — but even those pets may struggle if they are not accustomed to the cold.

“Even dogs stout enough to go duck hunting in 35 degrees need to be warmed up,” he said. “When weather gets to 29 or 30 degrees, they need some type of shelter to protect them from the wind.”

Especially at risk, he said, are smaller animals without heavy fur.

He also said the cold can make affected animals stress, perhaps from diarrhea or from some diseases, especially if they are not current on their shots.

Marcus Descant of The Urban Naturalist garden center in Lafayette said this  expected freeze “is not that severe” on many plants, including mature citrus, native plants and “cool season” vegetables. Even most flowers should be OK, he said, because daytime temperatures will move beyond freezing weather.

He said the wind may pose a greater threat to plants than the cold. If you can put a tarp over some exposed vegetation, it might help.

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Email Ken Stickney at kstickney@theadvocate.com.