Mercury hits 104 in New Orleans, hottest day ever
by Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune
Wednesday June 24, 2009, 10:02 PM
ELIOT KAMENITZ / THE TIMES PICAYUNE
An electronic sign outside of a bank on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie gives drivers some hot news as the metro wide sizzle continues Wednesday. Wednesday was as hot a day as New Orleans has ever experienced, with temperatures at Audubon Park setting the all-time record of 104 degrees there before thunderstorms provided some relief in the late afternoon.
The mercury climbed to 100 at Louis Armstrong International Airport, which broke the daily record by 4 degrees but was 2 degrees short of the all-time record there of 102.
The oppressive heat spurred the city of New Orleans to recommend that residents take advantage of public pools, libraries and senior centers to escape the heat. The city also said residents could get water at two health clinics.
The Public Service Commission warned utilities across the state that the heat wave has triggered a rule prohibiting them from cutting off customers for unpaid bills, while state Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain instituted a statewide ban on open burning.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Wednesday that won't expire until this evening at 7. And while the chance of thunderstorms is increasing, expect the unusually warm temperatures to continue through next week, meteorologist Danielle Manning said.
"It will stay in the 90s through all of next week, although it looks like at the beginning of next week there may be a frontal system coming through which could cool us off a bit, " Manning said. "But that's still pretty far out."
The immediate problem is a stubborn layer of high pressure at about 7,000 feet that caused a temperature inversion over Louisiana and much of the rest of the South. That layer is slowly moving west, which is why a few scattered thunderstorms fell Wednesday afternoon, Manning said.
But the high pressure has reduced the amount of moisture rising into the upper atmosphere to create clouds that can block the summer sunshine, and the cooling rain they can drop.
The temperature reached 104 at Audubon Park, with the humidity making it seem like it was hotter than 110 degrees. That surpassed the previous record for a high temperature during any time of the year, set on Aug. 30, 2000. It also broke the earlier park temperature record for June 24 of 99, set in 2006. The normal temperature for that date is 91.
At the airport, which records the weather service's official New Orleans temperature, the thermometer hit 100 at 2:53 p.m., breaking the former record of 96 degrees set in 2007. The record for the airport is 102, set on Aug. 22, 1980. The normal temperature is 90
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