Ida weakens to a Tropical Depression, Wind and Rain remain a concern for the southeast

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as Category 4 storm

11pm NHC Ida Track (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Category 4 Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday afternoon in Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.

Storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding continued hours later in portions of southeastern Louisiana.

At 11 p.m., Ida was about 80 miles north-northwest of Jackson, Mississippi. Ida was moving northeast at 10 mph with 35 mph maximum sustained winds.

TRACKING THE TROPICS: Interactive hurricane map | 4D Exact Track radar, animated track

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A turn toward the north is expected overnight, followed by a slightly faster northeastward motion by Monday night and Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Ida will move farther inland over southeastern Louisiana Sunday night. Ida is then forecast to move well inland over portions of western Mississippi Monday and Monday night and move across the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday.

Rapid weakening is expected during the next day or so, however, Ida is forecast to remain a hurricane through late Sunday night and remain a tropical storm until Monday afternoon.

Storm surge and river forecast models

Here are some water gauges to follow:

The National Weather Service River Office - New Orleans

River Gauge - Downtown New Orleans, Lake Charle and north of Lake Pontchartrain

At this time severe flooding along the Mississippi is not expected.

Rainfall (inland)

Rainfall will become a major issue for inland locations as seen below. The rain track will be all the way off the New England Coast. Potentially flooding rains may take place anywhere along the expected inland track of Ida.

We could see flooding all along Ida's path then off the New England coast

Water temperatures

It is what happens in the Gulf of Mexico where intensity increases could be dramatic. Water temperatures are toasty warm this time of year and even more so right along the northern Gulf. Along the coast, water temperatures are near 90°. This is a ridiculously warm value and allow for rapid intensification.

Extremely warm water could lead to explosive intensification for Ida just before landfall.
Indicating near or above 90° water temperatures
Northern Gulf along the current forecast track of Ida

Want to watch the buoy data?

Click here for buoy 41092. You can see water temperatures and wave height and wave periods.

Click hear for winds. It is an oil rig platform with an the anemometer (measures winds, speed and direction) located 110 meters (330 feet above sea level). This may give excessive wind speeds.

Ida will likely be the second major hurricane to impact Louisiana in just two years. Laura was a Category 4 storm in 2020.

This is understating what happened last year, as Hurricane Delta was a Category 3 (major) hurricane but weakened to a Category 2 as it made landfall.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Phil Klotsbach, major Hurricane Laura (almost a Category 5 hurricane at landfall) was Louisiana’s most powerful storm since the 1800s.

Along with Laura, could be the second MAJOR hurricane to hit the state.

Storm surge

Current forecast models indicate that the surge near the “eye” of Ida could reach more than 12 feet. Additionally, even if Ida does track well west of New Orleans, they may still see a storm surge of more than 7 feet. This could cause flooding to occur within the city. The city does have large pumps that should be able to maintain overwash at the peak of the storm.

However, a track closer to New Orleans may cause extreme overwash and the pumps may not be able to hold back the flooding.

Saturday evening forecast

New Orleans and Katrina

It is 16 years to the day (the same day Ida made landfall in Louisiana) that in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi River (Louisiana).

Katrina had luckily weakened from a Category 5 (strongest possible) to a Category 3 by the time Katrina made landfall.

New Orleans had received winds in the 75-100 mph range and damage was done but mainly to the larger (taller) buildings, including the Superdome. The city of New Orleans, being below sea-level, didn’t deal with much wind damage at the street level. The strongest winds howled over the houses and most buildings, most of which are less than 3 stories high.

This same fact came back to haunt them.

After Katrina had tracked east of the city, keeping the city on the weaker, western side of the storm, Katrina went on to devastate coastal areas of Mississippi. Tidal surge of more than 20′ and winds well over 115 mph left large sections of the coastal communities scoured. More than 200 people died there in Mississippi, despite many who had evacuated inland, often times, it wasn’t far enough.

Back in New Orleans, as the storm departed and conditions improved, the northerly winds began to shift the waters of Lake Pontchartrain southward.

The excessive weight against the improperly built levies there in New Orleans began to fail. By 10:30 a.m. the city began to flood, even as the sun was coming out as the storm was moving well inland.

The flooding event became an extreme flash flooding event.

By the next day, many areas inside New Orleans were under 6-9 feet of water, trapping thousands and sending tens of thousands fleeing to higher ground.

It is estimated a thousand people died not from storm surge or flooding rains, but from poor construction.

With the track expected to be west of New Orleans, there will likely be different results than what we saw for Katrina, but again, there will likely be catastrophic impacts for the Parishes along the immediate Gulf Coast there in Louisiana.

Katrina tracked east of New Orleans. Ida expected to track west of New Orleans.

About the Authors:

After covering the weather from every corner of Florida and doing marine research in the Gulf, Mark Collins settled in Jacksonville to forecast weather for The First Coast.