NEW ORLEANS — Even in the heat of the day, a walk along Lake Pontchartrain is still the place to be for John Lavie and his golden retriever Callie.
“It’s the only place I can walk her in the summer because she needs to be by water,” Lavie said. “Even the City Park is too hot for her, you know.”
But these days a dip in the water feels more like a “hot bath” he added.
This week, the lake temperature at the NOAA gauge near the New Basin Canal Lighthouse has been hovering around 97 degrees.
That’s about 15 degrees higher than the normal average this time of year.
Brady Skaggs from the Pontchartrain Conservancy says it’s been a while since the water has been this hot.
“I went back and looked at our data and we had a really hot July in 2012,” Skaggs said. “We had some exceptionally high values and measures, so we’re not quite to that level yet.”
So how hot is it?
Again, the lake is about 97 degrees.
The hot bath comparison is accurate when you consider the average bath temperature is between 98 and 100 degrees.
Hot tubs average about 100 to 102.
And, that morning cup of coffee or tea is about 135 degrees.
“When the water’s too hot it reduces the solubility of oxygen in the water,” Skaggs said. “The fish have less oxygen to breathe. So, folks get concerned with hypoxic events when the water is too warm, fish kills.”
We used a simple pool thermometer to get our own reading in the lake.
It showed the temperature just off the New Orleans seawall at about 95 degrees.
"Hopefully, we get some rain and cool everything off," Skaggs said.
If the temps stay this hot, it could impact hurricane season.
Super-heated water is the fuel that strengthens tropical storms and hurricanes.
“It’s not a good harbinger for the summer,” Lavie said. “You always have to hope for the best here.”
According to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, the central and southern regions of the state are reporting a rash of fish kills caused, in part, by the combination of soaring temperatures and storms.
If you see a fish kill, you are urged to report it to local authorities.