Hurricane Ida has continued to strengthen this morning and is expected to make landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane in the next few hours on the southeastern coast of Louisiana.
As of 8 a.m. CDT, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Hurricane Ida was at 28.6°N, 89.7°W, about 50 miles south-southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, with a minimum central pressure of 930 mb and maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. The storm is moving northwest at 15 mph.
ALERT™ subscribers can download similar stochastic event (SSE) IDs for Ida from the Downloads tab of the ALERT website. Compatible with Touchstone® and Touchstone Re™, the SSEs were selected based on event parameters (not industry losses) and should be used only for exposures in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The information provided herein is strictly confidential and is solely for the use of AIR clients; disclosure to others is prohibited unless noted in your AIR software license.
NHC Forecast Track and Intensity
Hurricane Ida should continue to move northwest over waters with high oceanic heat content toward the southeastern Louisiana coast today where it is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. After landfall, Ida is expected to make a gradual turn northward, then move northeastward tomorrow across the Tennessee Valley.
The exact landfall location for Ida along the southeast coast of Louisiana is not known, but in any case, storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts will extend far from the center. Impacts and hazards will arrive well before the eye of the hurricane makes landfall. Hurricane-force winds have already begun this morning: An elevated NOAA C-MAN station at Pilot's Station East near Southwest Pass, Louisiana, reported a sustained wind of 105 mph and a gust of 121 mph.
NHC Forecast Hazards
Extremely life-threatening storm surge inundation of 9 feet or greater above ground level is imminent somewhere within the area from Burns Point, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Overtopping of local levees outside of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System is possible where local inundation values may be higher.
Catastrophic wind damage is likely where the core of Ida moves along the southeast coast of Louisiana in the next few hours. Hurricane-force winds are expected today within the Hurricane Warning area along the Louisiana coast, including metropolitan New Orleans. Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will spread inland near the track of the center of Ida across portions of southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi today through early Monday. These winds will likely lead to widespread tree damage and power outages.
Ida will produce heavy rainfall today through Monday across the central Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, to far southwestern Alabama resulting in considerable to life-threatening flash and urban flooding and significant river flooding impacts. As Ida moves inland, significant flooding impacts are possible across portions of the Lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys through Wednesday.
If Ida makes landfall as forecast, it could be the strongest storm to hit Louisiana since the Last Island Hurricane of 1856. Last year’s Hurricane Laura tied for strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana when it made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 150 mph on August 27. Today marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. Although the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season saw many records fall, this year’s season has not broken so many records up until this point. Ida could be a historic storm, however, and change that.
The governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have declared a state of emergency for their respective states. The Governor of Alabama has issued a state of emergency for coastal and western counties.
Evacuation efforts have been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of yesterday, 2,450 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Louisiana alone, making hospital evacuations additionally risky; overcrowding of hospitals in the state has made diverting all patients in coastal facilities to facilities more inland nearly impossible.
Only some parishes in southeastern Louisiana have voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders in place. Louisiana has a high COVID-19 case rate. Those who are COVID-19 positive or at the request of a health care professional are in quarantine have been asked to evacuate and seek safe shelter in a hotel.
The Mayor of New Orleans has claimed that Ida moved too fast to mandate evacuations for the city’s residents, saying evacuations would not work in the case of this fast-moving storm.
AIR will provide a summary of the latest forecast and impacts for Ida on Monday, August 30, along with updates or refinements to today’s selection of similar stochastic events if and as relevant. AIR is also planning additional ALERT deliverables for Ida, including Touchstone® and Touchstone Re™ event sets, with timing still to be determined depending on Ida’s impacts.