Hurricane Ida Intensifying, to Come Ashore in Louisiana

Hurricane Ida is intensifying and is forecast to come ashore Sunday in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 209 kph (130 mph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday.Ida is expected to reach Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm blamed for 1,800 deaths, levee breaches and ruinous flooding in New Orleans. The city’s federal levee system has been improved since the 2005 storm.”This system is going to be tested,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said.The governor declared a state of emergency and said 5,000 National Guard troops were standing by along the coast for search and rescue efforts. And 10,000 linemen were ready to respond to electrical outages once the storm passes.“By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm,” Edwards said.A hurricane warning was issued from near Lafayette, Louisiana, to the Mississippi state line, a distance of nearly 320 kilometers (200 miles). Tropical storm warnings extended to the Alabama-Florida line, and Alabama’s Mobile Bay was under a storm surge watch. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also declared a state of emergency for the state’s coastal and western counties.”We’re going to catch it head-on,” Bebe McElroy told The Associated Press as she prepared to leave her home in the coastal Louisiana village of Cocodrie. “I’m just going around praying, saying, ‘Dear Lord, just watch over us.’ “New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ordered people who live outside the city’s protective levee system to evacuate.“The forecast track has it headed straight toward New Orleans. Not good,” said Jim Kossin, a senior scientist with The Climate Service, a private consulting company.From southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama, total rainfall could be from 20 to more than 40 centimeters (8-16 inches), with more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) possible in some areas, the government weather service said. Heavy rain and storm surge could cause widespread flooding in the area. Ida made landfall Friday in Cuba, and by Saturday the cleanup was underway. Trees were toppled and buildings damaged, but no deaths were reported.Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.