Hurricane Ida strengthens into Category 4 storm as it nears Gulf Coast landfall

As Ida marches north towards Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, weather forecasts previously said the storm’s wind speeds are expected to increase, potentially wreaking havoc on the area when it arrives.

“Ida stands ready to continue strengthening and based on recent satellite imagery it appears that strengthening is imminent,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Saturday night, adding that Ida is “expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane.” to be”.

The storm can hit land on Sunday afternoon or evening, but winds of tropical gale force could hit New Orleans and the surrounding area on Sunday morning.

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.

Sign up for email updates on major storms The life-threatening effects of rainfall, wind and storm surges will extend far from the center of the storm, the NHC said, and residents have been warned about the effects of major storms both in the past year and in the past.

If Ida hits land in Louisiana as forecast, it would be the fourth hurricane since last August and the third major hurricane in Louisiana this year Period of time.

A Sunday strike would also fall on the 16th anniversary of the landing of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, which killed more than 1,800 people in the area.

“August 29th is an important date in history here,” Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told CNN on Saturday. “A lot of people remember what happened 16 years ago. It’s time to settle down tonight and be where you need to be.”

Schools and casinos closed, flights canceled

Officials across the state have asked people to evacuate, and some have issued mandatory orders.

Arnold urged people to stock up on enough food and water for at least three days.

“We say the first 72 (hours) are on you,” added Arnold. “It will be difficult for the responders to reach you for the first three days.”

A dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi Estuary on Sunday when Ida hits Land, the NHC said. Further storm surges are expected from the coasts of West Louisiana to the border between Alabama and Florida.

The storm surge, coupled with winds of up to 250 km / h, could make some parts of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for weeks or months, according to a hurricane statement by the National Weather Service (NWS) in New Orleans.

Louisiana has not yet recovered from two major hurricanes in 2020.  Now another is attacking

The NWS warned of “structural damage to buildings with many washed away” and winds that could bring “widespread power and communication failures”. Flood rain could cause “numerous road and bridge closures, with some weakened or eroded” along with “some structures uninhabitable or washed away”.

Precipitation accumulation during the storm can range from 8 to 16 inches from southeast Louisiana to southern Mississippi through Monday, with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible, the NHC said.

In anticipation of the storm, airlines canceled all flights arriving and departing from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Sunday, the airport said.

In Mississippi, at least 15 school districts and universities will be closing on Monday, with the majority of schools announcing plans to resume classes on Tuesday pending the weather forecast.

In addition, a dozen casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast closed prior to the hurricane’s forecast landfall. Most casinos closed on either Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening and announced plans to reopen on Tuesday.

Region prepares when landing approaches

Local residents are running out of time to evacuate and those who did not leave on time should work to find a safe place to hide.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said Friday that after the storm began, people will have to stay off the streets to protect first responders.

As the storm approached, mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of at least seven parishes in Louisiana, as well as the towns of Grande Isle and Port Fourchon. Voluntary evacuations were carried out in six communities.

Jefferson Congregation President Cynthia Lee Sheng on Saturday urged residents of low-lying areas to evacuate before Hurricane Ida, as the expected storm surge was “unsurvivable”.

“I want to reiterate that the storm surge we are expecting is not viable,” she said, adding that the storm is expected to continue over the area. “We have to leave you immediately.”

St. Tammany Parish officials reminded residents to protect their pets during the storm.

“Bring your animals inside, DO NOT LEAVE them chained outside,” the St. Tammany Parish Animal Services Department wrote in a Facebook post. “If it’s not safe for you, it is not safe for your dog.”

The animal service urged people evacuating to check their pets’ collars and ID tags, bring boxes large enough to hold them, prepare food, water, and medication for several days, and call shelters beforehand to get them see if they accept pets.

The storm will continue to drain resources, which are already scarce amid the recent surge in the Covid-19 pandemic. New Orleans hospitals will not be evacuated and will instead be housed on the spot as Ida walks the area, said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the city’s health department.

“I would ask our residents if you do not have to go to the hospital this weekend, if you do not have a life-threatening emergency, please do not go,” said Avegno. “This is not the time to go to the hospital for a routine thing that might wait until later.”

CNN’s Monica Garrett, Gene Norman, Chris Boyette, Paul P. Murphy, Melissa Alonso, Hollie Silverman, Amanda Watts, Haley Brink, Artemis Moshtaghian, Liam Reilly, Ray Sanchez and Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

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