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Using a blanket to try to keep warm, a man walks along Florida Blvd. at about 9:30 a.m., with the temperature around 22 degrees F. in Baton Rouge, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, after Monday's sleet and freezing rain that accompanied a winter storm.

As Fat Tuesday rolled in, so did plunging temperatures across Louisiana and Mississippi that broke records spanning back more than a century.

The coronavirus pandemic already meant streets that would typically be packed with people and parade floats were barren in 2021, and residents instead battled hard freeze warnings.

Northern parts of Louisiana faced the deepest plunge, with a temperature recorded as low as 1 degree at the Shreveport Regional Airport. The previous record low for Feb. 16 in the area had been 20 degrees, set in 1903, according to the National Weather Service.

The all-time record low for Shreveport was set at -5 degrees on Feb. 12, 1899, with Louisiana's all-time record low coming a day later in Minden at -16.

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"It was definitely a cold one," said Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Orleans, "the coldest [on this day] here that we've seen in 100 years or more in most locations."

Temperatures didn't fall quite as low in other areas, but still easily set new records for the day.

BATON ROUGE

  • Feb. 16, 2021 low: 20
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low: 23 in 1909

NEW ORLEANS

  • Feb. 16, 2021 low: 25
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low (MSY airport): 29 in 1963

SLIDELL

  • Feb. 16, 2021 low: 22
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low: 26 (2007)

LACOMBE

  • Feb. 16, 2021 low: 19 
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low: 21 (1991) 

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BILOXI

  • Feb. 16, 2021 low: 22
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low: 24 (1900) 

LAFAYETTE

  • Feb. 16 record low: 16
  • Previous Feb. 16 record low: 25 in 2007

Those areas also had the potential to set records for the lowest high temperature reached throughout the day, with conditions likely dipping back below freezing in the evening, Grigbsy said.

But those temperatures will begin to change quickly after midnight.

Snow flurries fell on Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 16, 2021 in Baton Rouge.

"We’re going to have another low pressure system that’s going to be coming in towards us quite rapidly," Grigsby said.

Temperatures are expected to climb quickly into the 50s and low 60s on Wednesday, but parts of south Louisiana will be at risk for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail in the evening. Once that system moves out, areas north of Lake Pontchartrain are expected to again plunge down toward the hard freeze line later in the week, Grigsby said.

Much of Louisiana remained under a winter storm warning throughout the day Tuesday about as far as the edge of New Orleans and Covington in southeastern Louisiana. Those areas were under a winter weather advisory.

At least two Louisiana residents are believed to have died in connection with the winter weather, both in the Lafayette area.

Hard freeze conditions were expected in much of the warning area, according to the National Weather Service, which could cause "significant" damage to unprotected pipes and crops. Some areas of the state, including Baton Rouge and Covington, are expected to see accumulation of wintry precipitation throughout mid-day, with as much as a half-inch of ice possible in the Baton Rouge area.

Those projections would mean the most icy precipitation ever on Feb. 16 in Baton Rouge history. The current record for the day was trace levels of precipitation that fell in 1895.

Icy road conditions are expected to be possible through Wednesday, with temperatures expected to remain below the freezing line throughout much of the day.

There were a few dozen road closures across Louisiana as of 9 a.m. due to weather conditions, several of which were affecting I-10 in the Lafayette and Baton Rouge areas. Click here for the latest updates. 


Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak