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Tropical Storm Ida Could Be Strong Category 3 Hurricane Before Louisiana Landfall

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Tropical Storm Ida will strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane just before it moves over southeast Louisiana, forecasters said Friday morning.

The National Hurricane Center said Ida will make landfall in Louisiana, where hurricane watches have been issued ahead of the storm's Sunday or Monday arrival. Sunday also marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Officials said those in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi should have a hurricane plan in place.

Here's what we know about Tropical Storm Ida, soon to be a hurricane, as of 11 a.m. Friday.

Tropical Storm Ida

Forecasters said around 11 a.m. Friday that Tropical Storm Ida was over the Caribbean Sea and located 75 miles southeast of the Isle of Youth and 200 miles east southeast of western Cuba. Ida will pass over the Isle of Youth and western Cuba later today.

The storm’s sustained winds have increased slightly over the morning, to  65 mph, and it is moving northwest at 15 mph, a motion forecasters said it will make for the next few days as it treks towards the southeastern and central Gulf of Mexico tonight and Saturday.

NHC said the system is expected to make landfall along the U.S. northern Gulf coast on Sunday.

Just before landfall in Louisiana, forecasters said Ida could see wind speeds up to 120 mph, making it a Category 3 hurricane.

Watches, Warnings and Weather To Expect

Parts of Louisiana, including metro New Orleans, are under hurricane and storm surge watches ahead of Ida's arrival.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • Sabine Pass to Alabama-Florida border
  • Vermilion Bay, Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Mobile Bay

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Cameron, Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border
  • Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Metropolitan New Orleans

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa and the Isle of Youth

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Little Cayman and Cayman Brac
  • Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque, and Havana

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • Mississippi-Alabama border to the Alabama-Florida border.

Southeast Louisiana could see 8 to 16 inches of rainfall from Ida, with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible for the area.

Forecasters said Ida will also bring with it a dangerous storm surge to the region, raising water levels up to 11 feet in some areas.

  • Morgan City, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne: 7-11 feet
  • Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana to Morgan City, Louisiana, including Vermilion Bay: 4-7 feet
  • Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Mississippi-Alabama border: 4-7 feet
  • Mississippi-Alabama border to Alabama-Florida border, including Mobile Bay: 3-5 feet
  • Lake Pontchartrain: 4-6 feet
  • Lake Maurepas: 3-5 feet
  • Sabine Pass to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana: 2-4 feet

Hurricane wind conditions for the region could begin as early as Saturday night.

Hurricane Season 2021

Following a hectic hurricane season, particularly for Louisiana where five storms made landfall in 2020, meteorologists expect 2021 to be a busy year for the tropics as well.

This year's season could see between 15 to 21 named storms, 7 to 10 of those being hurricanes.

So far, names Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace and Henri have been used.

Unlike last year, when forecasters had to pull from the Greek alphabet after all available storm names were used up, NHC will no longer use names like Zeta or Delta. Instead, forecasters will use names from a supplemental list.

Storms are categorized per the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale: Tropical depression (below 38 mph), Tropical Storm (39-73 mph), Category 1 (74-95 mph), Category 2 (96-110 mph), Category 3 (111-129 mph), Category 4 (130-156 mph) and Category 5 (more than 157 mph).

For more information on the tropical depression and other disturbances monitored by NHC, click here.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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