There is an old myth in New Orleans that gun violence is worst when it is hotter outside. This is true in other parts of the country that have considerably more seasonal variation, but down here it is just a myth.

Tracking over 2,700 shootings since January 2010 shows that there is no relationship between how hot it is and the number of shootings that occur. There have been more shootings on 88 degree days than 42 degree days but that’s only because there have been way more 88 degree days than 42 degree days over the last six years.

The rate at which shootings occur is the same in the blistering cold (yea, 42 degrees is blistering cold here) as it is in the oppressive heat. This can be seen on the below scatter plot of New Orleans shooting incidents per temperature degree. The Y-Axis shows the average number of shootings for each degree of temperature (X-Axis).

NOLA Temp

That’s very different from what is seen in northern cities. The below scatterplot of nonfatal shootings in Chicago by degree shows how warmer weather produces more shootings there up to a certain point. Interestingly shootings in Chicago slow down when the weather hits 95 degrees or more, but that is rare.

Chicago Temp

At the end of July last year New Orleans was on pace for 193 murders, but a slowdown in shootings between August and October helped the city finish with 164 murders on the year. New Orleans is now finishing its fifth consecutive month with 34 or more shootings, but if history is any guide then we are due for a lesser pace of shootings over the next two or three months.

Annualized

The fewest shootings in any given year have taken place in either August or September in four of the past six years as shown in the below table. August also had the third fewest shootings of any month in 2012 and the second fewest in 2013, the two other years were neither month had the fewest. The month with the most shootings tends to vary over the first half of the year with little regard for temperatures.

Year

Fewest Shootings Most Shootings

2010

September (26)

April (52)

2011 September (29)

March (50)

2012

February (23) January (50)
2013 December (20)

March (40)

2014

September (28) May (50)
2015 August (23)

May/July (48)

2016

January (29)

March (42)

Another way of looking at how August and September have generally been better than the year as a whole is to compare the number of shootings the city would have over a full year at each month’s total with the actual year’s shooting total.

Year

Pace Entering August Annualized August Pace Annualized September Pace

Final Shooting Tally

2010

480 447 316 448
2011 482 471 353

459

2012

458 353 450 443
2013 413 247 316

362

2014

442 389 341 432
2015 425 271 377

392

The pace of shootings slowed down in both August and September in each of the last 6 years. For example, last year New Orleans was on pace for 425 shootings as of the end of July, but gun violence dropped in August and September leading to “only” 392 shootings for the full year.

Just because August and September have been relatively slow months for New Orleans gun violence in the last six years does not mean it’ll be the case in 2016. Anything could happen though our recent history strongly suggests there will be a slowdown in gun violence in the next few weeks.