After a hitting a record low, Lafayette warming up _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Birds find a truck wheel-well to hunker down in as protection against the icy winter weather returning to south Louisiana.

Acadiana woke up to much more sunshine and far less ice Thursday as a thaw set in after more than two days of sleet and freezing temperatures that closed businesses, schools and government offices.

The National Weather Service forecasted temperatures across South Louisiana would climb to 50 Thursday, and into the 70s on Saturday, after bouts of freezing since Monday evening.

On Thursday government offices and city and federal courthouses reopened, while some school districts across South Louisiana remained closed, including those in Lafayette Parish.

Officials at the schools have indicated student and teachers would return to class Friday.

The roads that were closed due to ice have reopened, and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office said that a travel advisory for motorists traveling in the parish has been lifted.

Temperatures in Lafayette dipped to a record low Thursday morning before beginning the rise that will end this stretch a frozen weather.

The low this morning was 19 degrees, breaking a record of 21 set for this date in 1966, said Kent Kuyper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.

By afternoon, the temperature should be around 50 degrees, he said, predicting a range of 48 to 52.

But at 9:30 a.m., it was still below freezing — 30 degrees with a windchill of 24.

At least it’s not Chicago, he said. “That’s one of the nice things about being down here as versus up there. We don’t get that sort of temperature range for more than a day or two.”