Major hurricane devastating near landfall along Louisiana – space city weather
Hurricane Ida quickly intensified overnight, with a steep drop in pressure and maximum winds reaching 150 mph. Very close to a Category 5 hurricane, Ida is expected to reach the south coast of Louisiana, about 50 miles due south of New Orleans, by noon today.
It will be the most devastating hurricane to hit the region since Katrina 16 years ago today. For some areas, in some ways it will be worse. The Storm Eye Wall will pass very close to the New Orleans metro area. Hurricane-force winds extend over a diameter of 70 miles.
Over the next 24 hours, parts of southeast Louisiana will experience sustained winds well above 120 mph with higher gusts, 15 to 20 inches of precipitation, and a 12 to 15 foot storm surge. For the New Orleans area, winds and precipitation are expected to be significantly greater than Katrina, although the thrust is expected to be less. This storm will offer a rigorous test of the dike system built after Katrina hit the area below sea level in 2005.
Ida is heading for a low, swampy part of the US Gulf of Mexico coast. The storm surge will easily travel over this region for miles. While parts of the coast are sparsely populated, important infrastructure is also under threat. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson have a excellent damage report this region experienced during Katrina, including a complete shutdown of the port of New Orleans and weeks of delayed barge traffic. The impacts will be just as severe this time around. Food and fuel prices are expected to rise across the country.
There is no way to water down this situation. For those who survive, months of misery await the residents of Southeast Louisiana. Normally, recovery efforts are conducted in Louisiana from Baton Rouge, the state capital, located about 100 miles inland. However, Ida is expected to pass just east of Baton Rouge, with sustained winds of 100 mph. It seems very likely that Ida will cut power across the entire region’s most populous core, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The state – which is experiencing one of the country’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks and nearly 500 patients on ventilators – will lose much of its ability to function. It’s just an exceptionally dark situation.
As a forecaster, there isn’t much else to say. The storm is here, and it’s a punch. Ida is a nightmarish scenario for the state of Louisiana. We must be prepared to help them survive, recover and rebuild.