08/27 – Brantly’s Friday Night Hurricane Ida Update

 Radar data from Cuba indicate that the inner core of Ida has remained intact after its passage over western Cuba with a well-defined eye and relatively symmetric eyewall evident.  In addition, satellite images show deep storm activity increasing in both intensity and coverage, a sign that Ida is strengthening.

The hurricane is moving northwestward at about 15 mph.  A subtropical ridge centered off the southeast U.S. coast is expected to shift westward through the weekend. This feature should continue to provide a steering flow that will take Ida steadily northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico during the next couple of days. The models remain in very good agreement and show Ida making landfall in Louisiana late Sunday or early Monday morning

After the storm moves inland, a decrease in forward speed and a turn to the north and then the northeast is predicted as Ida moves in the flow on the northwest and north sides of the ridge. Since the models are tightly clustered and because the steering flow is well pronounced, there is high confidence in the track forecast.

The new NHC track forecast as of early Saturday morning is very similar to the previous one from Friday evening.  Residents are encouraged to not focus on the exact details of the track forecast as storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts will extend far from the center.

Ida is expected to remain in conducive conditions for intensification until it reaches the central Gulf coast. The global models show a very favorable upper-level wind pattern over the storm and abundant environmental moisture. These conducive atmospheric conditions combined with very warm Gulf of Mexico waters should allow Ida to rapidly intensify this weekend.  In fact, it seems likely that Ida will pass over a warm eddy over the central Gulf of Mexico, where the ocean heat content is very high.

All of the models show significant strengthening, but there is a fair amount of spread on how strong the hurricane will get. The NHC intensity forecast remains near the high end of the model guidance, and shows Ida becoming an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane prior to reaching the coast. After landfall, rapid weakening is expected due to land interaction, drier air, and an increase in shear.

As Ida continues to intensify over the Gulf of Mexico, an expansion of its wind field is predicted. The NHC wind radii forecast is largely based on the radii consensus, and winds of at least tropical storm force are likely to reach the coast Sunday morning. Therefore, all preparations to protect life and property for this dangerous event need to be made on Saturday.

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