Hurricane Ida expected to be ‘extremely dangerous’ Category 4 storm when it approaches Gulf Coast

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Ida officially reached hurricane strength on Friday and is expected to continue intensifying before approaching the northern Gulf Coast of the United States this weekend – potentially on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Hunters found Ida at hurricane strength around 1:15 p.m. ET on Friday with 75 mph maximum sustained winds. By 5 p.m., Ida had strengthened with wind speeds up to 80 mph as it moved closer to the Isle of Youth and Cuba.

Ida is forecast to strengthen quickly over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico this weekend and be a major hurricane when it reaches the northern Gulf Coast. The latest track issued by the National Hurricane Center shows Ida as a Category 4 with winds of 140 mph before its expected landfall in Louisiana on Sunday.

“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Louisiana,” NHC forecasters said. “Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday… with potentially catastrophic wind damage possible where the core of Ida moves onshore. Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the warning area.”

The following watches and warning have been issued:

Storm surge warning:

  • East of Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border
  • Vermilion Bay, Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas

Hurricane warning:

  • Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa, and the Isle of Youth
  • Intracoastal City, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River
  • Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Metropolitan New Orleans

Storm surge watch:

  • Sabine Pass to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana
  • Mobile Bay

Hurricane watch:

  • Cameron, Louisiana to west of Intracoastal City, Louisiana
  • Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border

Tropical storm warning:

  • Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque and Havana
  • Cameron, Louisiana to west of Intracoastal City, Louisiana
  • Mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border

Tropical storm watch:

  • Mississippi-Alabama border to the Alabama-Florida border

Due to the expected impacts of the storm, the New Orleans Saints football team canceled its final preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. The game was supposed to be played Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.

Other areas to watch

The National Hurricane Center is monitoring three other areas in the Atlantic for potential development.

The first is an area of low pressure several hundred miles east of Bermuda that’s producing disorganized thunderstorms and showers. The NHC said environmental conditions are only marginally conducive for development but a tropical depression could still form over the weekend. The system is expected to move slowly toward the east and pick up speed as it moves northeastward Sunday. The system has a medium 60 percent chance of formation in the next five days.

The second area being monitored is a tropical wave that’s becoming a little better organized between the Cabo Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles. Additional development is expected and, according to the NHC, a tropical depression is likely to form Friday night or Saturday before its forecast to move into an area with less favorable conditions.

The NHC will also be monitoring another tropical wave that’s expected to emerge off the coast of Africa by the middle of next week. Environmental conditions appear to be “marginally conducive for gradual development” toward the end of next week as it moves to the west-northwest.

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