Mardi Gras parades cancelled by storms

Saturday, February 22, 2003

NEW ORLEANS -- Rain and the threat of severe storms forced postponement of three Mardi Gras parades on what was to have been the first night of major Carnival processions in New Orleans.

Friday's Krewe of Cleopatra's parade was rescheduled for this afternoon, when clear skies are expected. The Oshun and Pygmalion parades were rescheduled for Monday night.

The annual pre-Lenten Carnival season celebrated along the Gulf Coast begins each year on Jan. 6 and culminates on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the final day of celebration before Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras falls on March 4 this year, and in New Orleans -- home to the nation's best-known Mardi Gras celebration -- the major parades start rolling two weekends before the big day.

Several parades in New Orleans suburbs and neighboring cities also were put off, including the Hercules parade in Houma, also delayed until Monday.

Torrential rains hit much of Louisiana early Friday and continued on and off throughout the day, causing street flooding and hazardous driving conditions.

South Louisiana was under a tornado watch Friday afternoon and some areas also were under flash flood watches. Forecasters expecgted the worst weather late Friday, with rain diminishing early Saturday morning and skies clearing by afternoon.

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