Working-3-hickey-river-trees.jpg
NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Let It Snow

State Climatologist Barry Keim
Louisiana State University
/
State Climatologist Barry Keim
State Climatologist Barry Keim
Credit Louisiana State University
/
State Climatologist Barry Keim

Louisiana isn't exactly known for its white winters. 

"We don’t get a lot of snow in north Louisiana," says state climatologist Barry Keim. "But we certainly get significantly more than in south Louisiana because of all the warm water we have available."

So what does it take to make flakes fall down here?

 

"To get snow in south Louisiana, we really have to have a cold front stall along the coast. That puts the cold air in place here, but you’re still close enough to that front to where that warm, moist air from the gulf can sort of climb it, if you will, and work it’s way into the upper parts of the atmosphere,"Keimsays.

The cold air and Gulf moisture combine to form snow. And that's exactly what happened during the "Snowpocalypse" two years ago. There were four icing events between January and March that year. But 2013 was by no means the worst winter Louisiana has ever seen."The mother of all snow events occurred February 14-15, 1895."

Baton Rouge received over a foot of snow. New Orleans saw eight inches. And Rayne, Louisiana..."Twenty-four inches in Rayne, LA," Keim says. "And I might add, that’s the one day snow record. And that still stands as our record."

Canal Street in New Orleans during the February 1895 snowstorm. Street cars are stranded in the background.
Credit Charles L. Franck
/
Canal Street in New Orleans during the February 1895 snowstorm. Street cars are stranded in the background.

This year is an El Nino year, which means it's going to be colder and wetter than usual. But according to Keim, that doesn't necessarily mean more snow.

"We don’t generally see more freeze events. Basically, we just get socked in with clouds a lot and we get a lot of rain and just stay soggy and damp and chilly."

That said, who know what will happen?

"The atmosphere is tough to cope with. So expect the unexpected!"

Copyright 2015 WRKF

Nick Janzen began his journalism career right here at WRKF. Reporting primarily on science and the environment, he also covers sports and local news. Born and raised in New Orleans, Nick earned a bachelors in political science from the University of Alabama before moving to Baton Rouge to pursue a masters in coastal science from Louisiana State University. Nick is a proud sci-fi nerd and passionate soccer fan.