Ida set to hit Southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 Hurricane on Sunday
The satellite presentation of Ida has continued to improve this morning with the center embedded within a fairly symmetric Central Dense Overcast and hints of the eye in both visible in infrared satellite imagery. Earlier imagery revealed a well-defined low-to mid-level eye and excellent spiral banding over the northern semicircle.
Both NOAA and Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft, somewhat surprisingly, have not found a significantly deepening tropical cyclone yet, but given the very recent increase in organization and structure, the winds are likely to catch up to the satellite appearance very soon.
Using the wind data from the aircraft and satellite intensity estimates the initial wind speed remains 85 mph for this advisory. The aircraft data does indicate that Ida’s wind field has expanded.
Given the improved inner-core structure Ida appears poised to rapidly intensify during the next 12 to 24 hours as it remains within a favorable environment of low vertical wind shear and over warm water. Although Ida has not significantly strengthened yet, the latest runs of high resolution models indicate Ida will reach Category 4 strength before landfall.
The new NHC intensity forecast calls for rapid intensification to Category 4 strength during the next 24 hours. After that time, fluctuations in intensity are possible due to eyewall replacement cycles as Ida approaches the northern Gulf coast. After landfall, rapid weakening is expected and Ida is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by Monday night, and become a post-tropical cyclone as it moves over the Tennessee Valley by mid-week.
The forecast models remain in remarkably good agreement through 36 hours, and the new NHC track forecast is essentially unchanged during that time, and continues to indicate that Ida will reach the coast of Louisiana on Sunday.
There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation Sunday along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi within the Storm Surge Warning area. Extremely life-threatening inundation of 9 feet or greater above ground level is possible somewhere within the area from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the coast of Mississippi. Overtopping of local levees outside of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System is possible where local inundation values may be higher. Interests throughout the warning area should follow any advice given by local officials.
The National Hurricane Center says, “Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Louisiana. Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday in portions of the Hurricane Warning area along the Louisiana coast, including metropolitan New Orleans, with potentially catastrophic wind damage possible where the core of Ida moves onshore. Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today in the warning area.”