Hurricane Ida hit Western Cuba as it continues to pick up speed on its way to the Southern United States.
The storm could become a Category 4 hurricane before it reaches the U.S. coastline as it continues to intensify. A hurricane warning has been issued for parts of coastal Louisiana including New Orleans. Residents along the central Gulf Coast were told to prepare for the storm or evacuate.
On Thursday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.
“Now is the time for people to finalize their emergency game plan, which should take into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Edwards said to residents in a statement.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced mandatory evacuations for areas outside the levee system late Friday afternoon. Those residents are required to evacuate by Saturday morning.
Scientists are predicting that Hurricane Ida will reach New Orleans on August 29th, exactly 16 years to the day since Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Katrina was a Category 3 storm and caused widespread devastation after making landfall twice along the Gulf Coast.
The @CityOfNOLA is issuing a mandatory evacuation for areas outside the levees (red) and a voluntary evacuation for the rest of the parish (yellow).#Ida could bring up to 11ft surge outside levees, and dangerous winds & heavy rain for the full area. pic.twitter.com/dkJuAkgKUC
— NOLA Ready (@nolaready) August 27, 2021
Meteorologists have recorded the storm’s sustained winds of 80 mph. It has increased in size and strength in the past 24 hours.
Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cuba are receiving heavy rainfall. Additionally, thunderstorms continue to erupt near Ida’s center, typically a sign of a strengthening hurricane, per Weather.com.
The northern Gulf Coast can expect high surf and rip currents beginning Saturday night or early Sunday.
“Tropical storm watches were in effect from the Alabama and Mississippi state line to the border between Alabama and Florida. Storm surge watches were also issued from Sabine Pass in southeastern Texas all the way to the border between Alabama and Florida,” reports AccuWeather.
The National Hurricane Center said in a statement a category 3 storm will cause devastating damage to well-built houses, possibly uprooting trees. Electricity and water will be unavailable for at least several days after the storm passes, per BBC.
Heavy rainfall and flash floods could linger for days in the regions after the storm.