Hurricane Ida hits Cuba, and parts of US Gulf Coast urge evacuations with major Sunday landfall expected πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

Ida is expected to hit the US as a major hurricane — Category 3 or greater with winds of at least 111 mph — on Sunday, forecasters said. Leaders in Louisiana and elsewhere issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders Friday in anticipation of major damage.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Friday asked the federal government to declare an emergency to free up recovery resources.

New Orleans is part of an area where a storm surge could combine with high tide to send 11 feet of water onto shore Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.

“We are activating every single resource at our disposal, so that we are prepared to respond,” Cantrell said Friday.

If Ida makes landfall in Louisiana, it would be the fourth hurricane to do so since last August — and would be Louisiana’s third major hurricane landfall in that span.

Ida, which formed in the Caribbean as a tropical storm Thursday, made landfall Friday afternoon on Cuba’s Isle of Youth, or Isla de la Juventud, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Thd storm is expected to cross the western mainland of Cuba later Friday and could cause life-threatening flash floods there and the Cayman Islands, forecasters said.

After that, it is expected to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a US landfall on Sunday evening — 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.
“Wind damage and storm surge will be life-threatening from Louisiana to the Florida Gulf Coast. Residents should also prepare for long-duration power outages,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Friday.

Evacuation orders posted across parts of Gulf Coast

Evacuation orders and advisories were issued across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi on Friday ahead of the storm.

Besides the alerts issued in New Orleans, similar orders or advisories were issued in nearby communities.
In New Orleans, a person hammers storm shutters closed as the city prepares for Ida.
Plaquemines Parish, situated just south of New Orleans, said evacuations would be mandatory starting at 3 p.m. Friday for the entire eastern bank of the Mississippi River, and much of the western bank.

The Louisiana barrier island town of Grand Isle, also south of new Orleans, also said evacuations were mandatory there.

On Thursday evening, the National Park Service issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Fort Pickens, Florida, and Davis Bayou, Mississippi, campgrounds in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Louisiana’s Lafourche Parish issued a voluntary evacuation advisory, especially for “those in low-lying areas, mobile homes, and RV’s.”

There were long lines at this gas station in Jefferson, Louisiana, on Friday.

Oil and gas companies have evacuated dozens of production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Ida looms, knocking offline more than half the region’s crude production, regulators said Friday.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimates that about 58.5% of the current oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down. The agency said nearly 49% of the natural gas production in the region has similarly been sidelined.

Ida whipped Cuba and the Cayman Islands on Friday

Before it heads to the Gulf, Ida delivered potentially dangerous amounts of rain to Cuba and the Cayman Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.

As of 2 p.m. ET Friday, Ida’s center was over the Isle of Youth, heading toward western mainland Cuba with sustained winds of 75 mph.

Ida could deliver 8 to 20 inches of rain in the Cayman Islands and western Cuba, including the Isle of Youth, hurricane center forecasters said.

“These rainfall amounts may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the hurricane center said.

Ida is expected to pass over western Cuba on Friday, and move into the southeastern and central Gulf of Mexico Friday night and Saturday.

Rapid intensification could happen in the Gulf. It would mean the storm’s maximum sustained winds will have increased at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less. That’s a jump of about two categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which grades hurricane strength from 1 to 5, the latter being the most intense.

Dangerous storm surge, winds and rain possible for US Gulf Coast

Once past Cuba, Ida is forecast to strengthen over the Gulf on Saturday and Sunday, and to be at major hurricane strength on Sunday whe it smacks into some part of the US northern Gulf Coast, forecasters said.

Winds, storm surge and heavy rain are expected to be major threats.

“Potentially devastating wind damage could occur where the core of Ida moves onshore,” the hurricane center said Friday.

As for storm surge: Water 7 to 11 feet above ground could move ashore if surge and high tide combine in an area from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the hurricane center said.

About 8 to 20 inches of rain are possible from southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama through Monday morning, the hurricane center said.

After landfall, it could turn northeast as it moves inland. About 4 to 8 inches are possible across southern and central Mississippi, the hurricane center said.

“This is likely to result in considerable flash, urban, small stream, and riverine flooding,” the hurricane center said.

A hurricane watch was in effect Friday for these parts of the US: Cameron, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama state line; metropolitan New Orleans; and Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.

A storm surge watch was issued Friday for Sabine Pass, Texas, to the Alabama-Florida state line.

Louisiana has been hard hit by hurricanes in the last year.

Two major hurricanes made landfall in the state in 2020: Laura as a Category 4 in August, and Zeta as a Category 3 in October. Zeta initially was thought to be a Category 2 storm when it hit, but a subsequent data review showed that it was Category 3 strength at landfall.
Hurricane Delta also slammed into the state in October as a Category 2 storm.

CNN’s Judson Jones, Matt Eagan, Rebekah Riess, Madeline Holcombe and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.

Hurricane Ida hits Cuba, and parts of US Gulf Coast urge evacuations with major Sunday landfall expected

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