5:50 AM PDT, August 28, 2021
Hurricane Ida has made landfall as one of the strongest storms to slam into the U.S. when it arrived around 1.p.m. ET Sunday near Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Based on wind speed alone, Ida is the fifth strongest hurricane to hit the United States, according to the Associated Press. Overnight, Ida quickly intensified when it moved through the Gulf of Mexico. Top wind speed grew from 80 to 150 mph in just five hours.
As of early Sunday afternoon, more than 117,000 Louisiana residents had lost power, according to PowerOutage.US.
“This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott told reporters Friday during a press conference with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. The National Weather Center in a bulletin early Saturday said “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today in the warning area.”
Edwards told residents across Louisiana they need to move quickly and plan to be ready for the storm’s impact by Saturday.
Ida is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana, but impacts are expected widely across the state and region. Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a devastating hurricane that wreaked havoc across the Gulf Coast. More than 1,800 people across the central Louisiana coast and the Mississippi–Alabama state line died and $125 billion in damage was incurred because of the August 2005 hurricane. New Orleans and surrounding areas were hit particularly hard by the storm.
Bracing for Ida, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered a mandatory evacuation for an area of the city outside the levee system but said putting such an order in place for the entire city wouldn’t be possible.
“The city cannot order a mandatory evacuation because we don’t have the time,” Cantrell said, noting how quickly the storm had intensified, the AP reported.
New Orleans residents have been told to brace for potentially long power outages and high winds that could last for up to 10 hours, authorities said.
“With a direct hit, ain’t no telling what’s going to be left — if anything,” Capt. Ross Eichorn told the AP. The fishing guide, who is located about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, told the AP he fears Ida will be “a monster,” noting, “Anybody that isn’t concerned has got something wrong with them.”
A mix of voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders had been issued for other areas in the coastal region.
After making landfall between Lafayette and Grand Isle, Ida is expected to move inland and weaken, but very heavy rains and strong winds are expected through southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi Sunday night.
The storm is expected to move north into southern and southwestern Mississippi early Monday, bringing to the area hurricane-force winds and rain up to 10 inches, WAPT reported. Authorities cautioned to expect possible flooding, power outages and wind damage.
By the time Ida is expected to reach the Golden Triangle and northeastern Mississippi late Monday, the storm will likely have weakened and by the time it has left the state Tuesday, it is expected to have been downgraded to a depression, according to WAPT.
Experts noted, however, that the intensity of the storm could change rapidly, and urged residents to pay attention to forecasts.