weather

These bitter low temperatures are sticking around.

The National Weather Service says the frosty weather will continue through Wednesday. It’s blaming the combination of low temperatures and high winds.

It has prompted New Orleans officials and homeless advocates to take precautions for people living on the streets.

The New Orleans Advocate reports all four homeless shelters in the city were opened free of charge and allowed to expand their capacity to take on additional clients.

Plaquemines Parish

Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency as a winter ice storm bears down on the southern states. New Orleans is on high alert to cope with unusually cold and rough weather.

The LSU AgCenter is offering many tips for keeping plants and trees alive during this cold snap. The AgCenter’s Shreveport-based horticulture agent Melea Martin said fragile plants should’ve been covered or moved during the last two nights of the hard freeze, but with care.

“During the freeze you want to make sure that if you do cover your plants with plastic, that the plastic is not touching the plant at all. It can cause damage to the plant," Martin said.

Temperatures in Orleans Parish are expected to drop to at or near freezing on Thursday night, prompting the City of New Orleans to put its freeze plan for the homeless into effect.

The freeze plan is enacted whenever the temperature or the wind chill factor is expected to fall to 35 degrees or lower. Temperatures near freezing, combined with the strong winds affecting the region, can cause serious medical problems to people exposed to them for extended periods of time.

The City of New Orleans activated its Freeze Plan for the homeless today, in advance of wintry weather that will affect the region Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Weather forecasts indicate temperatures and wind chill factors will dip to 35 degrees or lower on the nights of Nov. 27 and 28, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office said in a press release. Since exposure to near freezing temperatures and strong winds can cause serious health problems, the city will assist local institutions in providing shelter free of charge.

Heavy rains in southwest Louisiana are flooding land and keeping some farmers out of the fields.

Calcasieu Parish County Agent Jimmy Meaux tells The American Press that although sugar cane harvesting is through in most areas, rice and soybean farmers are being kept from preparing their fields for the planting season.

Most farmers spend January and February getting fields in shape for spring planting, which can begin as early as March, he said.

As rain followed rain in south Louisiana, the president of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association saw a good chunk of his crop swim over the levees around his ponds while fish swam in to feast on those remaining.

David Savoy of Church Point says rains since last week have overtopped the levees in about 35 percent of his 1,700 acres of ponds. But he says those are his most low-lying ponds, which also tend to be the most productive.

Utility companies reported thousands of power outages scattered around Louisiana as a cold front brought morning storms and colder temperatures to the state.

Entergy electric power companies reported more than 17,000 without power Thursday morning. Cleco in central Louisiana had more than 6,000 without power as of 9 a.m.

This year's hot and humid weather could make this one of the worst lovebug seasons in years in south Louisiana, bug experts said.

Lovebugs, so called because of their tendency to fly attached to one another while mating, are a big problem for the exteriors of vehicles and structures, LSU AgCenter agent Barton Joffrion tells The Courier.

The insects' scientific name is Plecia nearctica, but they're also called march flies, lovebugs and united bugs.

National Hurricane Center

Forecasters say a hurricane watch has been extended to include the New Orleans metro area as Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way toward the Florida Keys.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday morning that the watch area now stretches from east of Morgan City, La., to the Florida Panhandle.

Forecasters have said that Isaac could be a dangerous Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall over the northern Gulf Coast. That is expected to happen sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

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