TROPICAL STORM IDA IS GROWING STRONGER – A HURRICANE MENACE TO NEW ORLEANS
MIAMI: For days now, ‘tropical storm Ida’ has suddenly become an issue of obvious concern and has been under the close watch of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Although the subject storms earlier identified as it swirled towards a strike on Cuba on Friday is proven to be a rapidly intensifying storm that could potentially speed across warm Gulf waters and make its landfall into Louisiana as a major hurricane on Sunday based on expert’s prediction, the National Hurricane Center has equally warned.
“The forecast track has it headed straight towards New Orleans. Not good”, said NOAA’s ‘Jim Kossin’, a climate and hurricane scientist.
It’s evident, the storms’ trajectory is coming to fruition based on the previous tracking by forecasters about Ida heading towards the central Gulf Coast while making a Louisiana landfall will most likely happen over the weekend. It was also predicted while keeping an eye on the storms’ formation precisely for the next 24 hours that southeast Texas is not completely cleared.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that oil companies precisely Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron (CVX.N) begun evacuating non-essential personnel from offshore U.S. Gulf OF Mexico platforms ahead of the storms’ entry to the Gulf this weekend. And as of the time of this report, it was noted that hurricanes with winds up to 111 miles per hour (178 km) are classified as major that could bring catastrophic damage onshore, NHC said.
Nonetheless, looking at the storms’ trajectory as it continues to gain momentum, it was figured that Ida currently poses a relatively low threat to tobacco-rich western Cuba having drifted away due to the trajectory of the storms’ formation, although forecasters had predicted a glancing blow could hit the region on Friday. However, experts equally predicted that the real danger begins over the Gulf, noting that Ida will strengthen very quickly into a major hurricane before landfall precisely in the area of the Mississippi River delta late Sunday or early Monday.
“Ida certainly has the potential to be very bad”, ‘Brain McNoldy’, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami. Adding that “it will be moving quickly, so the trek across the Gulf from Cuba to Louisiana will only take 1.5 days”.
Prior to an emergency declaration for the state of Louisiana by a hurricane watch for New Orleans as ‘tropical storm Ida’ strengthens, it was observed that Ida’s maximum sustained winds swiftly rose from 45 mph (75 kph) to 60 mph (95 kph) as it drifts away from Grand Cayman towards Cuba’s Isle of Youth at about 15 mph (24 kph). While from the center, tropical-storm-force winds reportedly extended as far as 80 miles (130 km). In another development, Gov. ‘John Bel Edwards’ made it clear that:
“Unfortunately, all of Louisiana is currently in the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Ida, which is strengthening and could come ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane as Gulf conditions are conducive for rapid intensification”. Adding that;
“By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm”.
Meanwhile, based on prediction, it was noted that the possibility of a dangerous storm surge for the Gulf Coast should be considered inevitable, although this is dependent on the tide as Ida approaches the coast, 7 to 11 feet (2.1 to 3.4 meters) of storm surge that was forecast from Louisiana, Morgan City, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
While according to a press release by the hurricane center, it said: “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”. Noting that a voluntary evacuation late Thursday would become mandatory on Friday.
On top of this, forecasters had also warned of possible flash floods coupled with mudslides in addition to the tidal storm surge of as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal, along with “large and destructive waves”.