Hurricane Ida escalated into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane as it made its way to the US Gulf of Mexico coast, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Sunday.
With sustained winds of 130 mph, Ida was located about 100 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the NHC said in an advisory.
He said Ida, due to make landfall on Sunday, was now a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson five-step scale, a rating of 1 to 5 based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speed.
The hurricane could bring a “potentially fatal storm surge, wind damage and potentially catastrophic flooding” to the northern Gulf Coast from Sunday morning, the NHC said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Saturday that Ida would be one of the strongest to strike the state since at least the 1850s.
Download the NBC News app for the latest news and politics
Edwards said forecasters were “extremely confident in the current track and predicted intensity of Hurricane Ida, and you don’t really hear them talking very often about that level of confidence.”
With all Sunday flights canceled at the New Orleans airport, tens of thousands of motorists have sought to flee the area, clogging freeways.
As the city celebrates the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, those who remain brace for the worst.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told a new conference on Saturday that the hurricane had grown “faster than anyone prepared for it and there is no indication it will weaken “.
She said it was too late for the city to order a mandatory evacuation and called on residents to either evacuate the city voluntarily or to take shelter in place and “squat”.
President Joe Biden also told residents of Louisiana to “be careful and prepare” in a statement posted on Twitter Saturday.
He added that he had been informed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of preparations for the storm.
“We have deployed emergency response personnel and pre-positioned food, water, generators and supplies to make sure we are ready to respond,” he said.
Biden also warned that residents should remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the ongoing crisis. Louisiana is among the states with the lowest vaccination rates in the United States
“Make sure you wear a mask and try to keep some distance because we’re also facing a very contagious delta variant,” Biden said.
This is breaking news. Please check for updates.