Coldest Mardi Gras ever? Feb. 14, 1899: 22 degrees, 3 inches of snow, mules on ice

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Walter Denegre and Perrine Kilpatrick reigned as Rex and his queen on the coldest Mardi Gras on record, Feb. 14, 1899. ( | The Times-Picayune archive)

While the chilly, wet weather for this year's Mardi Gras is the coldest ever for a Fat Tuesday falling on March 4, it will not be the coldest or wettest Mardi Gras during the past 140 years, according to meteorologists at the Slidell office of the National Weather Service.

There have only been four previous Fat Tuesdays that fell on March 4 during that time period, forecasters said, with the warmest occurring in 1919, with a high of 79 degrees and a trace of rain; and the coldest in 1930, with a high of 56, and low of 40, with no rain.

The warmest Mardi Gras was on Feb. 20, 1917, when the temperature reached 83.

The coldest was on Feb. 14, 1899, when the low for the day was 22 and the high was 38, resulting in an average temperature of 30.

That day, there were 3 inches of snow on the ground, and while Rex and Comus rolled, the Krewe of Proteus was forced to postpone its parade until Friday because the owners of the mules that were to pull its floats refused to risk the slippery pavements.

Still, below-freezing temperatures are not that common on Mardi Gras, with temperatures of 32 or below being recorded on just nine of the last 140 holidays.

Rain is a more common event on Mardi Gras, with 45 of the previous 140 Mardi Gras celebrations receiving measurable rainfall. The wettest was March 1, 1927, when 2.12 inches of rain fell.