The Year Lake Pontchartrain Froze

Frigid Temperatures Grip the South

Freezing temperatures gripped Southeast Louisiana this morning. Temperatures hovered around 25 with a wind chill of 18 degrees.  No doubt, weather forecasters had called for a “hard freeze” overnight. I’m sure they recommended the three P’s; which are to Protect Pipes, Pets, and Plants. Arctic air is due to invade the region over the next few days and the National Weather Service has issued a “Hazardous Weather Outlook”.

It’s only been a handful of years since we’ve lived in the suburbs of New Orleans. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine having to run the faucet during a freeze to keep the pipes from bursting.  It’s a completely different climate here in Montana with a whole other set of weather rules.  As I was pondering the differences, I began reflecting on the winter of 1989.

It was December 23, 1989, and the New Orleans Lakefront weather station reported a low of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about a hard freeze!  It was the winter that Lake Pontchartrain froze!


Ice on Lake Pontchartrain. 1989 – New Orleans, Louisiana


Walking on Lake Pontchartrain

What a surprise it was when my family and I went out to the lake and saw that it had frozen over and turned to ice! It was a rare occurrence for the deep south and a sight to behold. My husband, David, walked out on to the lake with our big kids while I stayed back and took the pictures.


My husband and our three big kids


They walked out a bit farther than I was comfortable with – I didn’t want anyone falling through the ice, but David said I didn’t have anything to worry about.  A trifle hard for me to believe considering he put his foot through the ice (at a shallow spot in the lake, he insists).


My son sits on the frozen shore of Lake Pontchartrain


Warmer weather returned, and the ice on Lake Pontchartrain was very short lived. It was truly an amazing weather event for New Orleans and one that I am sure my family will never forget.

Weather Comparisons

As for those weather comparisons between the north and the south, I now have the pleasure of walking on frozen lakes each winter, but rarely experience a booming summertime thunderstorm like the south is known for.

As far as I can tell, there is always some kind of trade-off in these matters. We humans would be better off enjoying what we have at the moment, whether it be rain or shine, instead of complaining about what we don’t have.


To all those southerners who are grumbling about the current cold snap, enjoy it while it lasts.

It will be gone before you know it.

More of my life in Louisiana:

Thanks for stopping by y’all!