MIAMI – Tropical Storm Ida triggered a hurricane warning for New Orleans and a state of emergency for the state of Louisiana as it crosses the Caribbean in preparation for a first strike against Cuba on Friday.
“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 Governor John Bel Edwards.
“By Saturday night, everyone should be where they intend to weather the storm,” added the governor.
The United States’ National Hurricane Center said Ida is expected to pass through the tobacco-rich western part of Cuba as a tropical storm beginning Friday afternoon, then strengthen before reaching the Gulf Coast on Sunday evening. or early Monday.
“There is a growing risk of life-threatening storm surges, destructive hurricane-force winds and heavy rains on Sunday and Monday, especially along the Louisiana coast,” said the Hurricane Center.
“Ida certainly has the potential to be very bad,” said Brian McNoldy, hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
Hurricane watch was in effect for Cameron, Louisiana, all the way to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and the metropolis of New Orleans.
The mayor of Grand Isle, a town in Louisiana on a narrow barrier island in the gulf, called Thursday night for a voluntary evacuation before Ida and said a mandatory evacuation would take effect on Friday.
Late Thursday night Ida had maximum winds of 40 mph (65 km / h) and was heading northwest at around 12 mph (19 km / h). It was centered about 105 kilometers southeast of Grand Cayman and 585 kilometers southeast of the western tip of Cuba.
Tropical storm force winds extended up to 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center.
The storm is expected to fall 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain over parts of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands, with potential for more in some isolated areas.
Forecasters warned of possible flash floods and mudslides, as well as a tidal wave of up to 2 to 4 feet above normal, as well as “large and destructive waves.”
The Cayman Islands government said non-essential government offices closed early Thursday and several shelters were opened.