Ida is expected to strike Gulf Coast on Sunday evening as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, bringing a “life-threatening” storm surge. This has prompted tens of thousands of people to flee coastal areas. President Joe Biden has pledged aid to help states quickly recover once the storm passes.
Forecasters said that Ida is predicted to make landfall in the U.S. on Sunday and is Ida generating winds of 140 mile per hour or 225 kph. It could be stronger than Hurricane Katrina, which devastated much of New Orleans in 2005.
Tens of thousands of people are fleeing Louisiana as Hurricane Ida closes in from the Gulf of Mexico.
According to The Washington Post, many computer models suggest the storm could come ashore late Sunday or early Monday in Louisiana, which was ravaged by Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta last year.
Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards said that Ida’s winds will be fierce and will spread across a 300-mile, something he worries about while the whole state is suffering from the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a very serious situation on our hands,” Edwards said at a briefing. “This will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in the state of Louisiana since at least the 1850s.”
Louisiana is not planning to evacuate hospitals that are full of COVID-19 patients. “We have been talking to hospitals to make sure that their generators are working, that they have way more water on hand than normal, that they have PPE on hand,” Edwards said.
The National Hurricane Center said Saturday evening that hurricane Ida was tracked at 200 miles (320 km) southeast of the lip of the Mississippi River with winds of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) and was targeting the Louisiana coast.
Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, said that they are worried about the huge development that may arise before it makes landfall.
Hurricane Ida may bring floods caused by the winds that could reach 10 and 15 feet or 3 and 4.5 meters in the mouth of the Mississippi river with lower levels that could extend east along the nearby coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama, the NHC said.
Officials instructed evacuations in low-lying coastal areas that caused panic as thousand started leaving their homes. Cars cramming in highways and gasoline stations running dry were observed.
The governor of neighboring Mississippi declared a state of emergency. A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River and includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and New Orleans.
The storm is also expected to make landfall the same date that hurricane Katrina hit a large area of the Gulf Coast in 2005 that killed more than 1, 800 people. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 when it made landfall while as for Ida, it its predicted to reach exceptionally dangerous Category 4.
According to forecasters, hurricane Ida is the ninth named storm and fourth hurricane in 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season. It may also be more devastating than Hurricane Laura, another a category 4 storm that hit Louisiana in 2020.