Hurricane Ida is pounding the Gulf of Mexico at speeds of almost 100 mph (155 km/h) with maximum sustained winds. Accuweather forecasters stated that Hurricane Ida's eye is focused on Louisiana. The storm is expected to land as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana on Sunday.
Accuweather reported that the storm would be the first Atlantic hurricane to hit the United States in 2021.
At 1 p.m. CST (1 p.m. ET), Ida was approximately 290 miles (470 kilometers) south-southeast from the mouth of Mississippi River, and 380 miles (609 km) southeast Houma (La.). The storm is moving at 16 mph (26 km/h) in the northwest direction. The Category 2 hurricane, which is moving over the warm Gulf of Mexico at 16 mph (26 km/h), will likely gain more energy as it travels along the coast of Louisiana.
Related: 20 of the most devastating and costly hurricanes that have hit the US
The National Hurricane Center stated in a statement that "Preparations should be rushed to complete today to protect life or property in the warning area along northern Gulf Coast."
The NHC issued a hurricane warning in areas including Intracoastal City (Louisiana) and the Mouth of the Pearl River (also Louisiana), as well as around Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, as well as Metropolitan New Orleans.
Accuweather reported that New Orleans Mayor Latoya Catrell had requested mandatory evacuations of the levee system. However, John Bel Edwards, the governor of the state, and the National Weather Service said that there wasn't enough time to arrange such an evacuation. Accuweather reports that Cantrell has now advised residents to "hunker down" or to evacuate voluntarily.
The NHC stated that the eye of Ida will move through the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday night. It then moves to the Louisiana coast, where it will be "an extremely dangerous major storm." Ida will weaken once it reaches land and then move over the inland areas of Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday, August 30.
Forecasters say that storm surge is the most dangerous part a hurricane. Storms can cause severe damage to storm-prone areas and high winds. High tides can cause water levels to rise in certain areas if the peak storm surge occurs at the same time as high tide. A surge of 10-15 feet (3-4.6m) is possible from Morgan City, Louisiana to the mouth of Mississippi River. The NHC stated that peak surges could reach up to 7 to 11 feet (2.1-2.4 m) from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Ocean Springs.
Hurricane Ida will make landfall exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina struck the region. Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane the day before it made landfall in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane by the time it made landfall on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, along the Louisiana-Mississippi border with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (193 km/h), Live Science reported. Katrina is one of the most deadly hurricanes to hit the United States, with over 1,800 deaths due to flooding and hurricane Katrina.
Learn more about how you can prepare for possible hurricane conditions.
Original publication on Live Science