- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Winter is still here, but temperatures reached the high 70s Thursday and Friday in Louisiana and a forecaster says spring weather is moving in - even if spring itself doesn’t arrive until March 20.

“The weather pattern is swinging from winter to spring and it will continue into next month,” said Andrew Ansory, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Slidell.

This week’s warmup came after a Fat Tuesday celebration in New Orleans where the wind chill made it feel like it was in the 40s, and winds gusted to 40 mph.

Chilly weather will make a brief return when a cold front pushes through over the weekend, but the 70s are forecast to return next week.

The changeable weather is affecting some people’s health.

“Changing weather can certainly have an effect on people’s respiratory systems,” DHH Immunization Medical Director Dr. Frank Welch said. “The flu is not directly affected by weather, but rather by the way people respond to it. When the weather gets cold, people tend to congregate indoors and shut all the doors and windows. This creates the perfect environment for the flu to spread.”

Several forest fires have occurred this week in Natchitoches Parish.

On Tuesday, 871 acres, four buildings, two tractors and a truck burned in a wildfire near the Gorum/Flatwoods communities, said state foresty officials. According to state officials, the acreage burned consists of timber-company, privately owned and U.S. Forest Service land.

Another fire started early Thursday morning when a building fire spread into a wooded area.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain warns the vegetation in Louisiana is very dry and open fires are discouraged.

On Monday and Tuesday, Louisiana Department of Forestry fire crews responded to 49 wildfires that burned 1,678 acres in central Louisiana, Strain said.

“Even though the winds have died down, the wildfire risk remains elevated given the low humidity,” he said.



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