Por Minyvonne Burke and Winston Wilde – NBC News
Hurricane Ida, which has already become a Category 4 hurricane on its way to the Louisiana coast, will be one of the strongest to hit the state since at least the 1850s, the southern state governor warned Saturday. .
Experts from the National Weather Service “are very confident in the current track and forecast intensity for Hurricane Ida, and it’s really unusual for you to hear them speak with that level of confidence,” John Bel Edwards said during a portion of update this afternoon.
Ida quickly strengthened in the early hours of Sunday and reached maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km / h)according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), making it a Category 4 hurricane.
Ida’s eye was located at 2:00 am (Eastern Time) 100 miles (160 km) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 175 miles (280 km) southeast of Houma. The hurricane was moving toward the northwest at about 15 mph (24 km / h).
“Once again we emphasize that if residents are under evacuation order or can leave, PLEASE LEAVE. There will be devastating conditions,” the agency tweeted.
Ida is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Sunday night, 16 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast.
“Preparations to protect lives and property must be completed today in the warning area along the northern Gulf Coast,” the center said in its 5:00 pm update this Saturday.
More danger to New Orleans
New Orleans could take a particularly hard hit.
The city’s mayor, LaToya Cantrell, on Friday ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying areas that are not protected by the city’s levee system. He had also called for voluntary evacuations within the communities that do have this system.
But when forecasters said Ida was escalating, Cantrell urged those who have not yet been evacuated to prepare to seek shelter.
“We do not want to have people on the road and, therefore, in greater danger”the mayor said at a press conference on Friday. He also said that people living outside the levee area should get out as soon as possible and reiterated that those within that system are safe.
Edwards said that Louisianans had until sundown on Saturday to prepare for the hurricane.
“We can also tell you that your time window is closing,” he said. “It’s closing fast. By the time you go to sleep tonight, you need to be where you intend to get through this storm and you need to be as prepared as you can be.”
The climate will begin to deteriorate rapidly, the governor said. By 8:00 am on Sunday, tropical storm force winds are expected to hit the southern part of the state.
President Joe Biden participated in a briefing Saturday at the White House with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive updates on the path and strength of the hurricane.
Speaking of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the president warned the state of Louisiana: “Above all, I urge people in the area to pay attention and be prepared.”
He added that his Administration has released food, water, generators and other supplies.
To those who were forced to take shelter, Biden also reminded them of the COVID-19 threat: “Make sure you wear a mask and try to keep some distance, because we are still dealing with the highly contagious delta variant. “
A hurricane warning is active from the Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River, and also includes the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The Mississippi / Alabama border to the Alabama / Florida border is under a tropical storm watch. In preparation for Ida’s arrival, the Governor of Mississippi declared a state of emergency this Saturday-
Ida is expected to produce heavy rains from Sunday through Monday on the central Gulf coast, resulting in major flash floods and river flooding, forecasters said.