- Tropical Storm Ida has formed in the Caribbean Sea.
- This system is forecast to grow into a strong hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
- Interests along the northern and western U.S. Gulf Coast should monitor this system closely.
Ida became the ninth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season late Thursday afternoon while located between Grand Cayman and Jamaica, based on measurements by a U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter mission.
It’s too early to know specific details about the impacts Ida will bring to portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast, but interests from the upper Texas coast to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle should monitor its progress closely. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says there is the potential for hurricane-force winds, flooding rainfall and life-threatening storm surge in parts of this region by Sunday and Monday, especially in Louisiana.
Tropical Storm Ida is located in the western Caribbean Sea, or about 210 miles southeast of Grand Cayman.
(MORE MAPS: Spaghetti Models, Rainfall Outlooks, etc.)
Tropical storm warnings have been issued in the Cayman Islands and western Cuba. These areas could see tropical-storm-force winds (39+ mph) through Friday.
Bands of heavy rainfall could also trigger dangerous flooding and landslides in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, western Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as this system tracks generally northwestward through Friday.
Forecast Intensity, Track
The NHC expects Ida could be at or near hurricane strength as it approaches western Cuba or the southern Gulf of Mexico late Friday into early Saturday.
There is the possibility that Ida will undergo a period of rapid intensification as a hurricane when it tracks through the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. That’s because Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are plenty warm, upper-level winds should be favorable and there’s plenty of moist air available.
An area of high pressure over the Southeast U.S. will be the large-scale steering wheel for the system, with its clockwise circulation sending it northwestward in the Gulf.
Right now, the NHC forecasts a landfall of Ida as a hurricane somewhere from the upper Texas coast to Louisiana and southern Mississippi sometime Sunday or early Monday. This system could be near major hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast.
Ida could make landfall as a major hurricane on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfalls in southeast Louisiana, then again near Waveland, Mississippi.
Keep in mind that impacts will arrive before any landfall and that impacts could extend outside the forecast path shaded red in the map below.
Tropical storm conditions could arrive along portions of the northern Gulf Coast as soon as Saturday night or early Sunday. At least some coastal flooding could begin in some areas as soon as Saturday.
(PERSPECTIVE: Beware the ‘I’ Storm)
The bottom line is that this system is a dangerous hurricane threat for the U.S. Gulf Coast by Sunday and Monday. However, it’s too early to provide specific information on the magnitude and location of any damaging wind, storm surge or heavy rainfall threats.
It’s also likely to pose a threat of flash flooding, strong winds and tornadoes to some degree inland over parts of the South Monday and 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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