- Hurricane Ida is centered in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Ida is forecast to grow into a major hurricane as it tracks toward the northern Gulf Coast.
- Interests along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast should finish hurricane preparations now.
Ida is currently centered 510 miles southeast of New Orleans and is tracking northwest at just over 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 80 mph, making Ida a Category 1 hurricane.
Interests along the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama should monitor Ida’s progress closely and finish hurricane preparations on Saturday. Follow the advice of local officials if you are ordered to evacuate.
(MORE: Maps to Track Ida)
A hurricane warning is posted from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, eastward to the mouth of the Pearl River, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and the New Orleans metro area. Tropical-storm-force winds are forecast to arrive in parts of this region late Saturday night into early Sunday, with hurricane conditions developing Sunday and Sunday night.
A hurricane watch continues to be in effect from Cameron, Louisiana, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the border between Mississippi and Alabama. These areas are also under a tropical storm warning, which means tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours.
Finally, a tropical storm watch has been issued near the Alabama coast and for inland portions of Mississippi and Louisiana, where tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.
A storm surge warning has been issued from the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana, to the Mississippi/Alabama border including Vermilion Bay, Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas. This means life-threatening inundation from storm surge is expected in these areas within 36 hours.
A storm surge watch is also in effect from the Texas-Louisiana state line to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. This means dangerous flooding from storm surge is possible within the next 48 hours.
Forecast Track, Intensity
An area of high pressure over the Southeast U.S. will be the large-scale steering wheel for Ida, with its clockwise circulation sending it northwestward toward a landfall along the Louisiana coast late Sunday into early Monday. Keep in mind that impacts will arrive on Sunday before landfall occurs and that impacts will extend outside the forecast path shaded red in the map below.
Hurricane Ida is expected to intensify in the Gulf of Mexico, likely rapidly, as it moves northwestward. That’s because Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are plenty warm and upper-level winds are favorable.
Therefore, Ida is currently expected to be at major hurricane strength, possibly even Category 4 intensity, when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast Sunday.
Ida could make landfall as a major hurricane on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfalls in southeast Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 29, 2005.
Four named storms, including three hurricanes (Laura, Delta and Zeta), made landfall in Louisiana in 2020.
Along the Gulf Coast, the following storm surge inundations are possible if the peak surge happens at high tide, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
-Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River: 10 to 15 feet
-The mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne: 7 to 11 feet
-Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Morgan City, Louisiana, including Vermilion Bay: 6 to 9 feet
-Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to the Mississippi-Alabama border: 4 to 7 feet
-Lake Pontchartrain: 4 to 7 feet
-Lake Maurepas: 3 to 5 feet
-Pecan Island, Louisiana, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana: 3 to 5 feet
-Mississippi/Alabama border to Alabama/Florida border, including Mobile Bay: 2 to 4 feet
-Sabine Pass to Pecan Island, Louisiana: 2 to 4 feet
This peak surge will occur within an hour or two of Ida’s landfall. However, some coastal flooding could also occur in areas of onshore flow as soon as early Sunday morning that may cut off escape routes from the coast.
The NHC also notes that overtopping of local levees outside of the hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system is possible where local inundation values may be higher.
Tropical storm conditions could arrive in the hurricane warning area as soon as late Saturday night, which will make hurricane preparations dangerous. Hurricane conditions should develop during the day Sunday into Sunday night.
The NHC said wind damage could be “potentially catastrophic” near where the core of Ida makes landfall in Louisiana.
Downed trees, widespread power outages and some structural damage are possible in the hurricane warning areas.
At least tropical-storm-force winds are expected to punch into inland parts of Louisiana and Mississippi through Monday.
(PERSPECTIVE: Beware the ‘I’ Storm)
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is forecasting the following rainfall totals:
-Southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi: 8 to 16 inches with isolated 20-inch totals through Monday.
-Northeast Louisiana to central Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley: 4 to 8 inches.
This will likely trigger widespread flash flooding, particularly where bands of rain stall for a period of a few hours. It will also lead to river flooding that could linger for several days after the storm.
At least a local flash flood threat will also penetrate inland into the Deep South and Tennessee Valley Monday and Tuesday.
High Surf, Rip Currents
High surf and rip currents will affect the northern Gulf Coast beginning Saturday night or early Sunday.
Isolated tornadoes are frequently a concern with landfalling tropical cyclones.
Some rotating cells in Ida’s rainbands may spawn tornadoes not only near coast as it heads toward land Sunday, but also inland over the South Monday into Tuesday.
Forecast changes are likely over the next couple of days, so check back with us at weather.com for important forecast updates.
Now is a good time to ensure you have a hurricane plan in place in case this system becomes a growing threat where you live.
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