Florida: An expected blow from Hurricane Ida on Sunday


Florida: An expected blow from Hurricane Ida on Sunday

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell wants to evacuate everyone who lives or works outside the city's levee protection system before the expected hit from Hurricane Ida on Sunday.

"I am asking for a mandatory evacuation of all areas outside of our levee protection system," the mayor declared, as the city scrambled to prepare for the rapidly mounting storm, which meteorologists expect will become a Category 3 hurricane when it reaches the Louisiana coast.

The National Hurricane Center warned that Tropical Storm Ida headed for a strike on Cuba on Friday. On Sunday, the storm intensified rapidly and could speed through warm Gulf waters and hit Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane.

"The forecast trajectory is heading straight toward New Orleans. Not very good," Jim Kosin, a senior scientist with the Climate Service, said.

Ida was expected to turn into a hurricane on Friday before hitting tobacco-rich western Cuba. The government on Friday issued a hurricane warning for its westernmost provinces and Isle of Youth. Meteorologists said up to 20 inches of rain could fall in some places, making deadly floods and mudslides possible.

The hurricane center said a greater danger would then begin over the Gulf, where forecasts are in line with expectations that Ida will strengthen very quickly into a major hurricane of up to 120 mph (193 km/h) before making landfall in the Mississippi River Delta late Sunday.

On Friday, people were getting ready in New Orleans, queuing up for groceries, gas, and ice, and the city was delivering sandbags. Saturday's pre-season game kickoff between the Arizona Cardinals and the Saints at the Super Dome was lifted by seven hours to avoid the weather, until noon CST after consultation with city, federal, and National Weather Service officials.

On Friday morning, Ida's maximum wind speed rose from 40 mph (65 km/h) to 65 mph (100 km/h) as it approached Cuba. Tropical storm winds extended up to 90 miles (150 kilometers) from the center.

Hurricane hour declared for New Orleans and emergency declaration for Louisiana. Category 3 hurricanes can cause damage

"Unfortunately, the entire coast of Louisiana is currently in the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Ida, which is getting stronger and may come ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane because Gulf conditions are favorable for rapid intensification," said Governor John Bel Edwards.

"By Saturday evening, everyone should be where they intend to weather the storm," the governor added.

The hurricane watch was in effect from Cameron, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and New Orleans.

Dangerous storms were also possible along the Gulf Coast. If a storm surge pushes at high tide, Ida can interfere with some levees (2.1 to 3.4 meters) of water projected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

"There is an increased risk of life-threatening storms and damaging hurricane-force winds and torrential rain on Sunday and Monday, particularly along the Louisiana coast," the Hurricane Center said.

The mayor of Grand Isle, a Louisiana town on a narrow buffer island in the bay, said voluntary evacuations late Thursday will become mandatory on Friday.

By the time you reach the Central Gulf Coast on Sunday (15 to 30 cm) of rainfall, with 20 inches in isolated areas, from southeastern Louisiana to the Mississippi and Alabama coasts through Monday morning. The hurricane center said more heavy rain is likely across Mississippi as Ida moves inland, causing "large, urban flashes, small streams, and riverine floods."

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