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The City of New Orleans

Dec 22-26 Extreme Winter Weather

Tips to Prepare for Winter Weather

Even though we're so far south, New Orleans can see dangerous winter weather. Extreme cold, dense fog, and even ice & snow storms are possible during the winter months. Dangers from these weather conditions include unsafe roads, cold-related illness, fires, and power outages. When there's a winter weather risk in New Orleans, the National Weather Service issues alerts.

Freeze Warning: Air temperature is expected to be 32 degrees F or lower for a significant amount of time

Hard Freeze Warning: Air temperature is expected to be 25 degrees F or lower for long enough to freeze water pipes

Wind Chill Advisory: issued when wind chills, or "feels like temps," are 13 degrees F or colder AND are expected to last for two hours or longer.

Wind Advisory: issued when the following conditions are expected for 1 hours or longer -- 1) sustained winds of 26-39 mph OR 2) gusts 40 mph or greater.

High Wind Warning: issued when the following conditions are occuring or imminent -- sustained winds of 40 mph or higher for one hour or more OR 2) wind gusts of 58 mph or higher for one hour or more.

Dense Fog Advisory: Widespread or localized fog reduces visibility to 1/4 mile or less

Winter Storm Warning: A mix of wintry precipitation (freezing rain or snow) is happening or is about to happen

Ice Storm Warning: Heavy freezing rain is happening or is about to happen

During extreme cold

Stay warm

  • Stay inside in heat during extreme cold.
  • If you are homeless, seek shelter. During extreme cold, the citywide freeze plan will offer free shelter for homeless residents.   
  • If you have to go outside, wear layers, a hat & gloves and carry a cell phone.
  • Check on neighbors, children, the elderly & chronically ill to make sure they are okay.
  • Bring pets inside.

Know the signs of cold-related illness

See a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you or someone you know has these symptoms:


  • Shivering or fumbling hands
  • Exhaustion or drowsiness
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Bright red, cold skin or very low energy in infants


  • Redness or pain in any skin area
  • White or grayish-yellow skin area
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • Numbness

Practice fire safety & prepare your home

Prepare your home for a hard freeze

Leave your faucets on a slow drip.

  • To help prevent frozen pipes, run a spaghetti-thin trickle of water from the one faucet farthest away from your water meter when temperatures approach 32 degrees.
  • Please run just a thin trickle. If residents across the city run more than that, it can contribute to a water pressure drop.

Open your cabinet doors to expose pipes.

  • As an added precaution, open any cabinet (or regular) doors that hide the pipes under your sinks.
  • This allows the heat from your home to “thaw out” the pipes and prevent condensation from freezing.
  • If you have pipes in an unheated part of the home like a garage, try to keep them as warm as possible. Heat tape is a great solution for situations like these.

Be prepared to turn off your water (or disconnect hoses).

  • Disconnect outdoor hoses.
  • Know where to find the main water shutoff to your property in case a pipe does break.
  • As temperatures climb and the ice thaws, be on the lookout for leaks around your property.

Turn up the thermostat

  •  Make sure you leave the heat on at all times during a extreme cold weather.

  • Use a programmable thermostat to customize the temperature in your home. Set it to one temperature while you’re home and another while you’re at work, school or asleep.
  • Set the thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature (recommended setting is 60 degrees). The lower the temperature is, the slower it loses heat and the more you save on your energy bill.

Dealing with a burst pipe?

If you experience a pipe burst in your home, turn off your water and drain your plumbing.

  • To do this, locate the main water line from your water meter. 
  • There should be a valve where the line enters your house. Turn it off. Then run all your indoor faucets to drain water from your pipes.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and hoses to your washing machine. 
  • As with any leak on private property, call a plumber immediately.

Prepare for Pets


If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets.

  • Bring all pets inside and out from the wintery elements.
  • If you are unable to bring pets inside you must provide a shelter that protects from cold winds and rain, along with access to clean, unfrozen water.

Contrary to popular belief, pets are not insulated from the cold just because they have fur. Just as with people, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause conditions such as hypothermia, frostbite and even death in animals.

Stray animals will seek warmth wherever they can find it.

  • Cats left outdoors often crawl into a warm car engine to get warm.
  • When that engine starts up the cat can be seriously injured or killed by the fan blade or belt.
  • It’s much safer to keep your cat indoors in cold temperatures.
  • Always honk your horn or tap your hood before starting your car to scare any cats from under your vehicle.
  • If you have outside cats you take care of, either let them in your garage or build them a shelter with bins and boxes filled with blankets or hay.


New Orleans Humane Law and Rescue will be responding to emergencies only while the freeze plan is activated.

Emergencies include an animal hit by a car, an distress and in need of immediate help, and animal attacks.

If you do see an owned animal outdoors without shelter while the city has it’s freeze plan enacted, call 911 to alert New Orleans Humane Law & Rescue.

The LASPCA will be closed December 24 and 25, but will have an officer on standby 24/7 responding to emergency calls.

Prepare for Plants

  • Cover vegetable, tender, and tropical plants with a light-colored material (e.g., a bedsheet) extending all the way to the ground. Try to avoid contact with the foliage.
  • Cover citrus when temperatures stay below 32°F for 6+ hours.
  • Covers should be put on in the afternoon before a freeze is expected; the afternoon sunlight will warm up the trapped air inside, which can keep the temperature above freezing. Remove or vent the covers during the day if the temperature warms or it is sunny. If there is a prolonged or severe freeze, consider adding incandescent string lights to warm the plant.
  • Water soil around plants thoroughly.
  • Protect the roots and rhizomes of tropical plants by spreading a 4-6 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant.
  • Bring non-cold hardy potted plants indoors (ex. garage or shed).

Know Your Renters' Rights

Your landlord should provide working heat in your home.

New Orleans Municipal Code Sec. 26-215:

Every dwelling unit shall be provided with heating facilities capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking appliances shall not be used to provide space heating to meet the requirements of this section.

How is room temperature measured?

New Orleans Municipal Code Sec. 26-216:

The required room temperature shall be measured three feet above the floor near the center of the room and two feet inward from the center of each exterior wall.

What about fuel-burning equipment?

According to New Orleans Municipal Code Sec. 26-218:

All fuel-burning equipment and appliances shall be connected to an approved chimney or vent.

Combustible and flammable items shall not be stored in the same area as fuel-burning equipment or appliances.

For more tips on being prepared for anything that comes our way, visit