Sentinels Wednesday: Winter in New Orleans

Behind the scenes with Pirate’s Alley

In this week’s edition, I’d like to introduce you to winter in New Orleans. This is how it normally looks in January:


Daytime temps are in the 50s, it’s often rainy and/or humid, and it’s windy and surprisingly cold because of the dampness. At night, it will go below freezing a few times. In all the years I lived there, I only experienced a “hard freeze” (below freezing for more than 36 consecutive hours) one time, when it went in the teens at night.

Snow? It happens, but not often. It snowed twice during my years in the city. Once, it was a bare dusting that lasted a couple of hours, which was enough to get everyone excited. The second time was on Christmas Day, 2004, eight months before Katrina. We got maybe an inch that day, which lasted less than 12 hours before it melted. For a few hours, though, it was pretty amazing.

Here’s a shot from that day, of the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line a block from my house:


Now, what does this have to do with Pirate’s Alley? Well, during the entire book, which takes place over about a one-week period, Dec. 14-21 or so, New Orleans is below freezing, with blizzard conditions. The surrounding areas of Louisiana are having a normal winter.

It makes one suspect that perhaps something other than Mother Nature could be manipulating the weather, right? Just sayin’…

9 thoughts on “Sentinels Wednesday: Winter in New Orleans

  1. It snowed in New Orleans my senior year in high school, and I can remember riding home on the streetcar looking at the snow on palm trees and marveling at how strange it looked. And I must say, camellias in the snow are beautiful! As you said, though, winter was usually gray, damp, and cold!

    • It is beautiful under snow, Kathy, although a rare sight. People who came to NOLA to visit me in winter (especially when Mardi Grass would fall early) were always surprised at how cold and damp and miserable it was!

  2. Enjoyed your pictures. Having lived through several blizzards in my life, I can only imagine what DJ and company are dealing with in NOLA.

  3. Snow tends to make things seem magical in my opinion no matter where it gets that feeling and from the picture i’m sure it was wonderful ( well better than cold and humid only)

    carnaval under the snow….it happened here… but it’s not so great with all the people in the street it becomes dark and dirty immediately

    • I love when it snows–it is beautiful… long as I don’t have to drive anywhere. It never snowed during Mardi Gras/Carnival when I was in New Orleans, although I remember it being miserably cold several times when it fell in early February. Brrrr…..

  4. Living in Illinois I’m use to the snow. Last year was bad, set new records. This year not so much.

  5. Lol the weather report promised snow for today, but alas, they were wrong once again. There was a mixture of snow and rain for a few minutes, and two hail storms, that was it.