Hurricane Ida LIVE: Tens of thousands flee as storm 'worse than Katrina' makes landfall

Hurricane Ida intensifying over the gulf of Mexico

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Ida is an “extremely dangerous” weather system which could plunge much of the Louisiana shoreline under water as the state grapples with a COVID-19 surge which is already placing hospitals under intense pressure. The storm intensified faster than officials had predicted on Saturday, as residents of the Gulf Coast evacuated and businesses shut down, and gathered more strength overnight, posing yet another headache for beleaguered US President Joe Biden.

Officials have ordered widespread evacuations of low-lying and coastal areas, jamming highways and leading some gasoline stations to run dry as residents and vacationers fled the seashore.

Rick Knabb, the Weather Channel’s hurricane expert, tweeted this morning: “Intensity forecast has #Ida with 100 mph max sustained winds at latitude of New Orleans, probably still hurricane at latitude of Baton Rouge. Both metros under hurricane warning.

“Could be worse wind event for New Orleans than Zeta or Katrina, and with more rain-induced flooding.”

Southern Louisiana is still feeling the after-effects of Hurricane Laura from a year ago.

To complicate the situation still further, the state also has the third-highest incidence of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the US over the past seven days.

Hurricane Ida New Orleans

Hurricane Ida is about to hit New Orleans – piling more pressure on US President Joe Biden (Image: GETTY/Reuters)

There were more than 3,400 new infections reported on Friday, and about 2,700 people are hospitalised with the virus.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Saturday that the storm could be the state’s worst direct hit by a hurricane since the 1850s.

He told a news conference: “The implications of having a Category 4 storm while hospitals are full are beyond what we normally contemplate.

“We have been talking to hospitals to make sure that their generators are working, that they have way more water on hand than normal, that they have PPE on hand.”

As of 9am GMT, Ida was located about 75 mile south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, carrying top sustained winds of 140 mph.

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8.23pm update:  Ida hits US oil terminal

Hurricane Ida has lashed critical US oil infrastructure with winds up to 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour).

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately-owned crude terminal in the United States, paused deliveries ahead of the storm after forecasts indicated possible impacts to its operational areas.

LOOP’s marine terminal is located in open waters about 18 nautical miles (29 km) off the shores of Louisiana, while Port Fourchon is its land base.

The Louisiana port is the only U.S. deepwater terminal capable of offloading supertankers. It handles about 10 percent to 1 of the country’s domestic oil, 10 percent to 15 percent of the nation’s imports of foreign oil, and is also connected to about half of the U.S. refining capacity, according to the Port Fourchon website. It services 90 percent of the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater oil production.

8.21pm update: Biden arrives for FEMA briefing

President Joe Biden on Sunday visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington for a briefing about Hurricane Ida, which came barreling ashore in Louisiana earlier in the day, the White House said.

Biden stopped at FEMA upon returning to Washington from Dover Air Force Base, where he had viewed the return of the remains of 13 U.S. soldiers killed in last week’s bombing outside Kabul’s airport.

A Category 4 storm and one of the most powerful to hit the U.S. mainland in years, Ida was set to plunge much of the Louisiana shoreline under water as the state grapples with a COVID-19 surge already taxing hospitals.

Reporter battered by Hurricane Ida live on air

7.39pm update: “It’s double trouble because of COVID”

Palm trees trembled as rain blasted in sideways through New Orleans on Sunday, where retired 68-year-old Robert Ruffin had evacuated with his family to a downtown hotel from their home in the city’s east.

He said: “I thought it was safer. “It’s double trouble this time because of COVID.”

In the state capital of Baton Rouge, Marvin Broome said he had no choice but to stay home because his wife is the mayor, Sharon Weston Broome. The 73-year-old English teacher said in a telephone interview he was busy stashing the families valuables and important papers in a safe part of their home while Mayor Broome dealt with preparations for the city of 224,000.

Predicted storm surges were already happening, exceeding 6 feet (1.83 m) in some parts of the coast. Parts of Highway 90 that runs along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast had become a choppy river, according to videos posted on social media.

The NHC also warned of potentially catastrophic wind damage and up to two feet (61 cm) of rainfall in some areas.

6.30pm update: Hurricane Ida makes landfall in Louisiana

Hurricane Ida made landfall as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Sunday.

Ida is forecast to turn to the northeast early on Monday, NHC said in its latest advisory.

The NHC's latest tweet

The NHC’s latest tweet (Image: NHC)

5.48pm update: 

Piers Morgan has wished those in Louisiana good luck as a “terrifying monster storm” heads towards the American state today, taking to Twitter to speak of the near-category 5 hurricane.

Piers Morgan took to social media today as an extreme weather warning was issued in the US state of Louisiana.

The former Good Morning Britain presenter dubbed Hurricane Ida a “monster storm”, after weather reporters predicted wind speeds could reach 150 mph.

The 56-year-old TV star said the “absolutely terrifying” storm is likely to cause “mayhem” when it closes in from the Gulf of Mexico.

4.48pm update: Ida not the only hurricane in North America…

In addition to Ida further north, Hurricane Nora has pounded the coast of west-central Mexico on Sunday with torrential rains and heavy winds that caused flooding, felled trees and damaged roads and power lines in several states.

Nora on Sunday morning was about 5 miles (10 kilometers) north of Mazatlan and moving north-north west at 10 miles per hour (17 km/h), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It had sustained winds of 75 mph (120km/h) with higher gusts.

Now a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, Nora hit land on Saturday in the Tomatlan municipality, in the state of Jalisco, the National Meteorological Service of Mexico said.

New Orleans Louisiana

Water starts to rise over the Bayou Terrebonne in Montegut, Louisiana (Image: Reuters)

The most intense hurricances to hit the USA:

The US Gulf Coast braced on Sunday for what could be one of the strongest storms to hit the continental United States in years.

As of Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported Hurricane Ida packed winds topping 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour), with minimum pressure recorded at 933 millibars (mb), and could gather more strength, forecasters said. (The lower the minimum pressure, the more intense the hurricane) The following are six of the most powerful hurricanes to make landfall on the mainland United States based on minimum pressure: – Florida Keys Labor Day hurricane, 1935, 892 mb The hurricane struck the Florida Keys as a Category 5, the highest ranking possible on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

It generated wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (322 km per hour) and killed more than 200 World War One veterans who were in the Keys to build a highway. After ravaging the Keys, the storm moved north off the western coast of Florida before turning inland. In all, more than 400 people died in Florida.

  • Hurricane Camille, 1969, 900 mb Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane, bringing with it devastating storm tides and strong winds that demolished buildings and destroyed orchards. More than 200 people were killed.
  • Hurricane Michael, 2018, 919 mb In October of 2018, Michael was the third most intense hurricane to make landfall on the continent, hitting the Florida Panhandle, with its minimum pressure recorded at 919 millibars (mb). Michael was a Category 5 hurricane at landfall, with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (257 km per hour).
  • Hurricane Katrina, 2005, 920 mb The hurricane made a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 3 storm, causing levees and flood walls to fail in dozens of places. Most of New Orleans was flooded, and some people who were stranded in their homes climbed to their roof to await rescue. About 1,800 people died, according to the National Weather Service. Most victims were in Louisiana, but neighboring Mississippi also was hard hit. Katrina caused an estimated $108 billion in damage, making it the costliest hurricane ever to strike the United States.
  • Hurricane Andrew, 1992, 922 mb Andrew struck South Miami-Dade County in Florida and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage. That ranked as the most expensive storm in US history until Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans and pummeled other parts of the U.S. South in 2005. More than a dozen people were directly killed by the storm in Florida, with others dying of indirect causes.
  • The Indianola, Texas hurricane, 1886, 925 mb The hurricane destroyed the Texas town of Indianola, which at the time was vying with Galveston to become the state’s main port. Several dozen people were killed in the storm, which also ended a catastrophic drought in the region.

NHC tweet

NHC tweet earlier this afternoon (Image: NHC)

4.24pm update: “Damaging winds” set to spread “well inland“,warns NHC

The US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned of high winds which will reach well into the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

A tweet warned:As Hurricane #Ida moves inland later today and tonight, damaging winds, especially in gusts, will spread well inland across southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.”

4.03pm update: “A powerful and dangerous storm”

Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s chief medical official., said: “This is a powerful and dangerous storm.

“It is moving faster than we had thought it would be, so we have a little less time to prepare.

“There is a lot of COVID out there, there are a lot of risks out there.”

3.35pm update:

Hurricane IDA is about to make landfall in New Orleans, USA, after it was upgraded to a Category 4 storm with wind speeds of up to 150mph (240km/h).

The National Hurricane Center has urged the public to stay indoors and to prepare to hunker down for the next 24 hours.

Hurricane Ida has been growing in intensity over the last few days, and is now imminently about to make landfall in Louisiana.

The Category 4 storm has prompted authorities to make a desperate plea to the public, urging them to remain indoors at all costs.

NOAA map

An NOAA map showing the location of Ida earlier today (Image: NOAA)

3.16pm update: Ports closed as Ida approaches

Ports from southern Louisiana to Mississippi were closed on Sunday morning as Hurricane Ida raced toward the U.S. Gulf Coast as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, had also halted deliveries ahead of the storm, according to a notice on its website. LOOP’s terminal is located in the open waters of the US Gulf of Mexico, about 18 miles off the Louisiana shore.

Ports in southern Louisiana, including Houma and the Port of New Orleans were closed on Sunday, while in Mississippi Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula and the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway were shut.

Ida has intensified faster than officials predicted, prompting evacuations along the Gulf Coast and business closures. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Saturday warned it could be the state’s worst direct hit since the 1850s.

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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