People in the southern states of the US are bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Ida.
According to USA Today, the weather front formed in the Caribbean Sea yesterday, and forecasters are warning it could rapidly strengthen into one of the strongest storms of the Atlantic hurricane season.
The system is heading towards the US Gulf Coast, but conditions appear right for the storm to cause extreme weather for inland regions as well, according to an AccuWeather briefing. Senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski is reported as saying that parts of Tennessee still reeling from deadly floods are at risk for more heavy rain.
The storm is shaping up to be “probably be the strongest storm of the season thus far”, Mr Kottlowski said. It could make landfall before the end of the weekend as a hurricane, giving people in its path little time to prepare or evacuate.
A report by the Alabama Media Group said: “The latest track forecast from the hurricane centre shows the storm – which will likely be Hurricane Ida – making landfall along the Louisiana coast. It could be near Category 3 strength at that point with winds of 110 mph.”
While Ida had sustained winds of only about 40 mph yesterday evening as it formed near Jamaica, its track was set to travel over warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center said yesterday (Thursday) afternoon that the system will undergo “rapid intensification.” When the system reaches the northern Gulf coast on Sunday, the Hurricane Centre predicted it will be “at or near major hurricane intensity”.
USA Today reported that Hurricane Grace made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm this month, but Mr Kottlowski said this latest system has the potential to do more damage because of its potential inland effects in the US.
The Hurricane Center warned “there is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday, especially along the coast of Louisiana”.
Sunday is 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi as Category 3 storm. It was reported that Nearly 2,000 people died during Katrina and damage was reportedly valued at $125 billion (£91 billion) according to the National Hurricane Center. It left about 80 per cent of New Orleans under water.
Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was reported as saying people living across the northern Texas coastline and Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines needed to monitor Ida forecasts..
He said: “This is going to turn into a very serious situation relatively quickly. We’ve only got two or three days here of the storm actually being over water before landfall, so this storm is forecast to intensify pretty rapidly.”
The next named storms of the 2021 hurricane season will reportedly be named Julian and Kate.
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