Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds and just shy of Category 5, is now starting to hammer portions of southeastern Lousiana with hurricane-force winds, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest update.
“An elevated NOAA C-MAN station at Southwest Pass, Louisiana, recently reported a sustained wind of 105 mph (169 km/h) and a wind gust of 121 mph (194 km/h),” said the NHC in an 8 a.m. update on Sunday. “The latest minimum central pressure based on data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is 930 mb,” or millibars.
Currently, the storm is about 50 miles south-southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and around 100 miles south-southeast of New Orleans. Ida is moving to the northwest at around 15 mph, meaning the worst impacts from the storm could start to be felt in southeastern Louisiana—including New Orleans—by midday on Sunday if the storm continues on its current forecasted track.
Flooding appears to be the greatest danger posted by Ida, as 12 to 16 feet of storm surge is expected near the mouth of the Mississippi River as well as Port Fourchon.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Pearl River, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas, according to the NHC. A tornado watch is in effect until 8 p.m. ET for portions of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, said a bulletin from the Storm Prediction Center.
The storm surge, along with winds as strong as 150 mph, could leave portions of southeastern Lousiana uninhabitable for weeks or even months, according to a statement from the National Weather Service in New Orleans, noting that some buildings along the coast will wash away due to the high winds and storm surge.
Between 15 and 20 inches of rainfall could come to New Orleans, the NHC said, noting that the city’s pumping systems could be overwhelmed, according to the National Weather Service.
On Saturday, Lousiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Ida could be the worst storm to hit his state in 170 years and the worst since Hurricane Katrina, which hammered New Orleans and surrounding areas 16 years ago to the day, killing around 2,000 people and displacing tens of thousands of more.
“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,” Edwards also tweeted Sunday morning.
“Time is not on our side. It’s just rapidly growing, it’s intensifying,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell also said Saturday. “If you’re voluntarily evacuating our city, now is the time to leave … you need to do so immediately, if you’re planning to ride it out again make sure that you’re able to hunker down.”
And Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves warned his state could experience hurricane-force winds.
“[Ida is] moving fast and landfall of the storm’s eye is expected [around] 1 p.m. 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!”