Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Ida, which is expected to strengthen as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday, the governor’s office confirmed in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the entire Louisiana coastline is currently within the forecast cone of Tropical Storm Ida, which is strengthening and could land in Louisiana as a major hurricane as Gulf conditions are conducive to a rapid intensification,” said the governor in a press release. “The time has come for people to finalize their emergency game plan, which should take into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “
Ida could bring a dangerous storm surge, hurricane-force winds and damaging heavy rain on Sunday and Monday along the Louisiana coast. Hurricane force winds of 110 mph are forecast.
The declaration of a state of emergency authorizes the use of state resources for storm response efforts.
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“This type of threat contains additional problems because the window to prepare is so short,” Edwards continued, adding that residents should be where they “intend to weather the storm” by Saturday night.
The Governor’s Office for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Emergency Operations Center (GOHSEP) is monitoring the storm and coordinating with FEMA and local parish emergency preparedness offices, according to the communicated.
“Right now, we know the conditions are right for this system to become stronger,” GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom said in a statement. “We also know all too well the reality of this impact. This means that we all need to stay aware of the potential of this serious weather threat, finalize your contingency plans, and be prepared to adjust those plans due to any changes in the forecast or due to potential weather alerts being on-going. emission. “
Edwards warned that major power outages could occur.
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“The people of Louisiana have been tested time and time again, and while I hope and pray that this storm does not lead to the destruction of our state, we must be prepared to face the brunt of it. inclement weather, ”he said.
Ida formed in the Caribbean on Thursday and the US National Hurricane Center said it is expected to pass through western Cuba as a tropical storm from Friday afternoon and then strengthen as it heads towards the gulf coast.
Hurricane watch was in effect for Cameron, Louisiana, up to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and metropolitan New Orleans.
Late Thursday night Ida had maximum winds of 40mph and was heading northwest at around 12mph. It was centered about 65 miles southeast of Grand Cayman and 365 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba.
Tropical storm force winds extended up to 70 miles from the center.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.