New Orleans residents flee ‘extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida strengthened on Saturday and the reach of its winds expanded over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, prompting tens of thousands to cut short holidays and jam Louisiana highways.

Forecasters said it could make a US landfall as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, generating winds of 225kmh, heavy downpours and a tidal surge that could plunge much of the Louisiana shoreline under several metres of water.

“We’re concerned about explosive development shortly before it makes landfall,” said Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, which provides weather advice to oil and transportation companies.

“It’s going to be moving over some warm water,” he said.

A man uses pieces of plastic to protect against the rain caused by Hurricane Ida.

A man uses pieces of plastic to protect against the rain caused by Hurricane Ida.Credit:

Flooding from Ida’s storm surge – high water driven by the hurricane’s winds – could reach up to 4.5 metres around the mouth of the Mississippi River, with lower levels extending east along the adjacent coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama, the NHC said.

Officials 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.

Utilities were bringing in extra crews and equipment to deal with expected power losses from the storm. Hundreds of thousands of homes could fall dark as Ida’s strong winds carry well into Louisiana and as far east at Mobile, Alabama, said DTN’s Foerster.

Lifelong Gulf resident Hailey DeLaune, 29, told Reuters she and her fiance spent Friday evening boarding up the windows of his house in Gulfport, Mississippi, and gathering provisions to ride out the storm.

“Hurricanes have always been part of my life,” said the high school theology teacher, who was born during 1992’s Category 5 Hurricane Andrew. “You just run through your list and hope for the best.”


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