ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane Ida has entered the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen significantly this weekend.
As of 11 p.m., Ida was 235 miles southeast of Houma, Louisiana, and 145 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Maximum sustained winds are near 105 mph with higher gusts. The Category 2 storm is moving northwest at 16 mph. Louisiana remains in the projected path of Ida.
Ida is expected to intensify over the next 24 to 36 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center. On the forecast track, the center of Ida will continue moving across the central and northern Gulf of Mexico on Saturday night and early Sunday, and make landfall along the coast of Louisiana within the hurricane warning area Sunday afternoon or evening, forecasters said. Ida is then forecast to move well inland over portions of Louisiana and western Mississippi on Monday and Monday night.
Ida intensified rapidly Friday from a tropical storm to a hurricane with top winds of 80 mph as it crossed western Cuba. The storm is expected to rapidly strengthen again into an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane.
The fact that #Ida is already firing off thunderstorms (purple) and wrapping them around its core is not a good sign. Cuba just put a pause on it's intensification. Now there's nothing stopping it from strengthening significantly. pic.twitter.com/oZZpbP7AdA— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) August 28, 2021
“This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said during a Friday news conference with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.
A hurricane warning was issued for most of the Louisiana coast from Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Pearl River. A tropical storm warning was extended to the Mississippi-Alabama line.
If that forecast holds true, Ida would hit 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds near the riverside community of Buras, just down the Mississippi River from New Orleans.
The hurricane center predicts the peak storm surge could reach 10 feet to 15 feet along the Louisiana coast, with a possible surge of 7 to 11 feet in the New Orleans area. The storm’s track put New Orleans on the eastern side — often called the dirty side — which generally sees much more significant effects than the western side.
In addition to Ida, there are three other disturbances in the Atlantic basin. There are no immediate threats to Florida at this time.