The powerful storm has sustained winds of 150 mph, just 7 mph shy of a Category 5 storm. It is expected to make landfall in Louisiana this afternoon.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Hurricane Ida “is going to be a very serious test for our levee systems.”
Edwards said that the pandemic is further complicating the state’s efforts to deal with the hurricane.
He told CNN that Ida, “comes at a time that, quite frankly, it presents some very challenging difficulties for us with the hospitals being so full of Covid patients.”
Watch the interview:
About 39,000 power outages have been reported across Louisiana, poweroutage.us reported as Hurricane Ida bears down on the region Sunday morning.
As of 10:18 a.m., 38,759 power outages have been reported.
The National Weather Service New Orleans tweeted a grim warning to residents of Louisiana as Hurricane Ida descends on the region today.
“As meteorologists at the National Weather Service Slidell office, we can’t bear to see this on satellite,” tweets the NWS. “We have hard times ahead, but we will all persevere. Take all messages we, public officials and broadcast media are saying SERIOUSLY. Stay tuned for more frequent updates.”
Read the tweet:
New Orleans has received over 65 inches of rain so far this year, their second wettest on record to this point of the year. This will make flooding in the region worse as Hurricane Ida approaches.
New Orleans is expecting 15-20 inches of rain with Ida.
Some more context: New Orleans averages 62 inches of rain in a year, so they have already totaled more than that with four more months to go.
Landfall will occur on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Louisiana.
The United Cajun Navy said Sunday it has activated all state chapters as Hurricane Ida, now a Category 4, continues to rapidly intensify.
The volunteer search and rescue and disaster relief organization said it will be sending out specialty teams during the storm and will deploy more teams once the storm has passed.
The UCN said it has deployed the first round of response teams to New Orleans. According to a Facebook post, the teams departed Denham Springs and will assist with medical and elderly evacuations.
The UCN issued an urgent request for more volunteers.
“THIS IS ALL HANDS ON DECK CALL OUT,” the post says and urged members to check social media over the next few days for rendezvous points.
According to the group’s website, the UCN is a “nationally registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief, and much more.”
When Hurricane Ida makes landfall later today, it will be coming in contact with a different-looking New Orleans.
“This is a different city than it was Aug. 28, 2005, in terms of infrastructure and safety,” Ramsey Green, New Orleans deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure told reporters Saturday at a News Conference ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall.
Ida is rapidly intensifying over the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, the same date Hurricane Katrina made landfall 16 years ago.
Green called the city’s levee system “an unprecedentedly powerful protection for the city,” which has three lines of defense: the coast, the wetlands and the levee system. “I think from that perspective, we need to be comfortable and we need to know that we’ll be in a much better place than we were 16 years ago,” Green said.
Green added: “That said, if we have 10 to 20 inches of rain over an abbreviated period of time, we will see flooding. We don’t know at this moment, we see 15 to 20 inches over 48 hours or less, and we can handle it, depending on the event.”
As Hurricane Ida approaches the coast of Lousiana, comparisons are already being made to Hurricane Katrina and Zeta.
“Like snowflakes, no two storms are exactly alike,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said, “but there are similarities to Ida’s forecasted track.”
Here are some of the similarities and differences:
- Hurricanes Katrina and Zeta both had tracks that passed near New Orleans, as Ida is expected to do.
- Katrina’s speed at landfall was 16 mph, whereas Zeta was much faster at 24 mph. Ida is currently moving at 15 mph. This is important because that slower movement with Katrina allowed for more time to dump a tremendous amount of rain.
- Katrina was so devastating largely due to the levees failing, which triggered large-scale flooding across New Orleans. The hope is that those engineering flaws have been fixed so that history will not repeat itself with Ida.
- Ida’s current speed is 16 mph, but it is forecast to slow down a bit by landfall.
- Katrina and Zeta were both Category 3 storms when they made landfall with winds of 125 mph and 115 mph, respectively.
- Ida is forecasted to maintain its Category 4 strength and maybe even strengthen before making landfall.
Read more about how Louisiana hasn’t yet recovered from two major hurricanes in 2020.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans has issued an extreme wind warning for southeastern parts of Louisiana, as the strongest winds from Hurricane Ida start to move onshore.
This warning is in effect until 10:45 a.m. CT and includes Houma, Bayou Cane and Estelle in southeast Louisiana.
Wind gusts in some locations may exceed 150 mph from the eyewall of Ida.
“This truly poses a very significant threat of casualties,” says the weather service.
People in this warning are urged to shelter in place: “Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to an interior room or shelter now,” the NWS office in New Orleans warned.
“This is a short-fused product that alerts in the final moments prior to the rapid onset of destructive winds associated with the inner rain-bands of major hurricanes,” the NWS said regarding the definition of this alert.
This alert is issued when sustained winds are of at least 115 mph.
The governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have warned residents to brace for impacts from Hurricane Ida.
“As conditions begin to deteriorate, stay in a safe place. Watch your local news, continue to heed the warnings of local officials, and do not put yourself in danger. Today is not the day to be outside,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted Sunday morning.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves warned his state could experience hurricane wind impacts and urged residents to stay vigilant.
“[Ida is] moving fast and landfall of the storm’s eye is expected [around] 1pm today in south Louisiana. Hurricane level winds [are] possible as [the] storm enters SW MS south of Natchez area in next 24 hours,” Reeves tweeted. “Please be weather aware, get prepared, and watch for updates!”
Hurricane Ida is now just 7 mph short of being a Category 5 hurricane, according to the 7: a.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center. Tornado warnings have been issued until 7 p.m. for multiple states in the Southeast as well.
Dave Hennen contributed to this report.