Fay doesn’t do much for River Parishes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – The first tropical disturbance of the year to affect the River Parishes packed a somewhat minor punch as it blew through the area over the weekend.

Local meteorologists said the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, which wreaked havoc all across Florida last week, amounted to nothing more than steady light rainfall with the occasional heavy wind gust.

“As it moved into the area, the storm’s track kept it over land and limited the opportunity for it to grow again,” said Chris Franklin, meteorologist for WVUE-TV in New Orleans. “There was also a distinct line of dry air in the upper atmosphere that weakened the western side of the storm, which is typically the most severe side.”

Franklin said since Fay followed a more northwesterly track, the bulk of the activity from the storm affected areas more west of New Orleans and the River Parishes.

“Areas closer to Lutcher, Vacherie and Gonzales saw the most rainfall,” said Franklin. “Anywhere from 2.5 to 3 inches of rain fell in those areas. Most of the severe stuff was in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.”

According to rainfall totals in the River Parishes from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Slidell, the heaviest downpour was recorded in Reserve, which received a total of 3.2 inches of rain. Other totals included 1.5 inches in Destrehan, roughly two inches in Vacherie and Lutcher, and about an inch to an inch-and-a-half in LaPlace.

“It was good rainfall, but really nothing close to what was anticipated from this storm,” said NWS Meteorologist Phil Grigsby. “The land track kept us in the clear.”

Although he did not have wind speed information for the River Parishes, Grigsby did say that the New Orleans metro area had to contend with some heavy gusts, and a gale warning was in effect for the lake.

“Most of the area saw sustained winds near 30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph in some areas,” said Grigsby. “The highest gust we recorded came from Lakefront Airport, which had winds gusting as high as 46 mph around 1 p.m. Sunday.”

Grigsby said the heaviest storm activity came between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, with a drop off around 5 p.m. as the storm continued to trek northeast.

Emergency preparedness officials from St. John and St. Charles reported no incidents of damage from the weather, and there were no instances of street flooding anywhere in the region. They called Tropical Storm Fay a good test run for the peak of hurricane season.

Now that Fay has left the area, Grigsby said NWS forecasters are looking at Tropical Storm Gustav, which formed in the eastern Caribbean over the weekend and became a named storm Monday afternoon. He said the projected path takes the storm northwest across southern Haiti on Tuesday, with a possibility that it may enter the Gulf sometime late this week.

“It’s a bit early to tell where it may go at this point, but it is something to continue to monitor in the days ahead,” said Grigsby.