Nov 13, 2023 - News

New Orleans forecast calls for 2-3 inches of rain amid dire drought conditions

Photo shows two women walking in the rain in Jackson Square.

New Orleans finally has rain in the forecast after weeks of hot, dry weather. File photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Up to 3 inches of rain could fall across southeast Louisiana through Wednesday.

Why it matters: The rainfall could help put out an underground marsh fire in New Orleans East that is being exacerbated by extreme drought conditions.

The latest: A low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to drop 2 to 3 inches of rain across metro New Orleans, according to the National Weather Service.

  • Light to moderate rain is forecast Monday night through Tuesday night, says Kevin Gilmore, a NWS meteorologist. The heaviest rain will be offshore.
  • Wind gusts up to 40 mph are also possible, along with coastal flooding.

What's happening: So far, the 200-acre marsh has only had a drizzle, but that should help some with the smoke, NOFD spokesman Chris Mickal told Axios on Monday.

  • A heavy rain would help greatly, he said, but not totally.
  • "It's going to take several of those rain events to totally put it out," he said. "The water table needs to come again where it used to be to make an almost swampy area."

Until then, NOFD is working around the clock to pump water from a drainage canal to flood the fire from above, NOFD Chief Roman Nelson previously said.

Photo shows New Orleans firefighters battling a swamp/marsh fire in New Orleans East.
New Orleans firefighters are flooding an underground marsh fire in New Orleans East that's been burning since mid-October and spreading smoke across the city. Photo: Chief Chris Mickal, NOFD photo unit

Between the lines: The fire response doesn't qualify for federal assistance because it's on private land.

  • Mayor LaToya Cantrell last week said she is asking for additional resources from other agencies to fight the fire that's been burning since mid-October.

State of play: New Orleans has had one of its driest, hottest years on record, leading to heat-related deaths, wildfires, saltwater intrusion, falling trees and more cockroaches.

  • New Orleans is more than 28 inches below normal rainfall for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service.
  • Metro New Orleans is now in an exceptional drought, the worst drought category possible from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

What's next: NOAA forecasters say New Orleans could have a wetter winter than average this year.

  • Long-term weather patterns look promising, Gilmore says, with more rain possible in coming weeks. "We've got to start somewhere."

Our thought bubble: Let's enjoy the rain and hope there's more to come.

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show Chris Mickal is spokesman for NOFD, not NOPD.


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