(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Ida, which formed Thursday, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before targeting Louisiana this weekend.
Ida is set to hit the Cayman Islands and Cuba as a tropical storm on Friday morning, delivering up to 20 inches of rain. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for both locations.
By Friday night into Saturday morning, Ida is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico and rapidly strengthen into a hurricane.
From Saturday morning to Sunday morning, Ida is forecast to grow even stronger, with winds likely approaching those of a Category 3 hurricane, which is considered a major hurricane.
Landfall is forecast for Sunday afternoon or evening, west of New Orleans and east of Lake Charles, though effects could be felt as early as Saturday night. Louisiana residents should expect storm surge up to 11 feet, 15 inches of rain, flash flooding and hurricane-force winds of up to 115 miles per hour.
After making landfall, Ida is expected to move north inland and could bring more heavy rain to middle Tennessee, which was hit by deadly floods last week.
The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch for parts of Louisiana and all of the Mississippi coast, including the cities of New Orleans and Biloxi. Those areas could see hurricane conditions within 36 to 48 hours.
Meanwhile, a tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of Mississippi and the entire Alabama coastline. A storm surge watch has also been issued for the entire coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including the cities of Lake Charles, New Orleans, Biloxi and Mobile.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday evening as the threat of Ida looked more certain.
“Unfortunately, all of Louisiana’s coastline is currently in the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Ida, which is strengthening and could come ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane as Gulf conditions are conducive for rapid intensification,” Edwards said in a statement. “Now is the time for people to finalize their emergency game plan, which should take into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
After landfall, Ida likely will move north into Tennessee with flooding rainfall. Areas in Tennessee hit with deadly, catastrophic flooding this weekend could suffer further destruction.
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