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Hurricane Ida strengthens to Category 4 ahead of landfall

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Posted at 7:54 AM, Aug 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 10:43:09-04

Hurricane Ida intensified into a Category 4 storm Sunday morning ahead of its expected landfall in Louisiana.

The National Weather Service said at 7 a.m. ET that Ida’s maximum sustained winds had reached 150 mph. Based on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hurricanes with wind speeds between 130 and 156 mph are considered Category 4 storms.

The storm is now expected to make landfall sometime in the early afternoon or late morning, though the northern Gulf Coast will feel the effects of the strong storm before that.

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Hurricane Ida track as of the morning of Sunday, Aug. 29

Ahead of the storm, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference Saturday over what to expect. During his remarks, the governor said Ida will be one of the strongest storms to hit Louisiana since at least the 1850s.

The National Hurricane Center says “extremely life-threatening” storm surge inundation of 9 feet or greater above ground level is imminent somewhere within the area from Burns Point, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

“Overtopping of local levees outside of the hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System is possible where local inundation values may be higher,” said the NHC.

Tropical Weather Atlantic
Cars drive through flood waters along route 90 as outer bands of Hurricane Ida arrive Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Gulfport, Miss. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The NHC says “catastrophic” wind damage is likely where the core of Ida moves onshore along the southeast coast of Louisiana starting Sunday morning. Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday in the hurricane warning area along the Louisiana coast, including in metropolitan New Orleans.

“Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will spread inland near the track of the center of Ida across portions of southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi (Sunday) through early Monday,” wrote the NHC. “These winds will likely lead to widespread tree damage and power outages.”

Officials say Ida will produce heavy rainfall Sunday through Monday across the central Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, to far southwestern Alabama, resulting in considerable to life-threatening flash and urban flooding and significant river flooding.

As Ida moves north, winds speeds are set to gradually decrease and the storm's category will drop.

“As Ida moves inland, significant flooding impacts are possible across portions of the Lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys through Wednesday,” the NHC said.

Ida's landfall in Louisiana will come 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and devastated parts of the region.