Meteorological Winter In Acadiana ends up milder than normal, bu - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Meteorological Winter In Acadiana ends up milder than normal, but it was a severe one too

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Meteorological winter ended today (December through February), and while the averages fell in line with the forecasts made in November of a drier and milder than normal winter, the numbers are quite deceiving. And it would be accurate to say that this winter was also a severe one, by Acadiana's standards.

Long term temperature and precipitation forecasts, while they can be accurate, don't address the issues of shorter term extreme weather events, because they get smoothed out but by the other 70-80 days worth of data.

Two arctic outbreaks in January brought the coldest temperatures seen in the region essentially since December of 1989.

Temperatures in the early part of the month saw a handful of consecutive hard freezes, with readings below 25 degrees, while the second arctic outbreak later in the month brought even more frigid consecutive readings of 17F and 16F degrees in Lafayette on January 16th and 17th. 

And during the mid-January freeze, temperatures stayed below freezing for 66 hours or more in spots, resulted in numerous exposed pipes freezing and some bursting, and put a serious hurt on tropical flora and fauna in the region.

In addition, Acadiana saw three snowfalls this winter, one in December where there was a dusting in Lafayette, but up to 4-5" fell and lasted two days on the ground in St Mary Parish...perhaps the biggest snow there in several decades. 

In January, flurries were seen with the first outbreak arctic outbreak, while the second one brought a half inch of snow and ice to Lafayette, while upwards of 3-4" fell in Evangeline Parish. 

Overall, there were 16 freezes in Lafayette this winter, versus only 6 last year...last year's coldest reading was 23F and the only hard freeze, while this year Lafayette experienced 7 hard freezes. 

As for the mild days, there were 20 days where temperatures reached 75 degrees or more this winter...last year, there were 42.

While the number of 80 degree or more days, including today, were 8...last year there were 14.

And as expected, February in most of Acadiana, and specifically in Lafayette, was very warm, some 10 degrees above normal, and ranked the second warmest February in 125 years, only to be beaten by February 2017 by 0.7 degrees.

In addition, while Lafayette's rainfall was below normal for the month...2.54" versus the 4.45" expected, it was the tale of two Bayou States with rainfall totals up to 10-15" across the western, central and northern part of the state.

Addressing monthly temperatures specifically, December was near normal temperature-wise while rainfall slightly above normal, January was 5 degrees below normal with slightly below normal rains, while our very warm February was drier than normal in Lafayette.

So the bottom line, for meteorologists and weather consumers, be wary of winter forecasts, while the forecast was indeed for a drier and milder than normal winter, most people, including this meteorologist would call it equally a severe winter when considering the amplitude of the arctic outbreaks we saw in January.

And everyone will remember the snow and cold this winter, not the overall mild temperatures and initial forecast.

The weather in Acadiana can be quite variable from year to year, and month to month, and this winter proved just that!

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