The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Hurricane Ida is expected to rapidly intensify as it continues to move to the northwest across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
It made landfall in Cuba Friday and could hit the southern U.S. state of Louisiana as a Category 4 storm Sunday, according to the center.
Ida became a hurricane Friday with maximum winds of 120 kph just before coming ashore in Cuba.
Forecasters fear the storm could have winds of 193 kph when it makes landfall over Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency for all of Louisiana and called on residents to evacuate.
“By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm,” Edwards said.
“The forecast track has it headed straight toward New Orleans. Not good,” said Jim Kossin, a senior scientist with The Climate Service, a private consulting company.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has ordered people who live outside the city’s protective levee system to evacuate.
From southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama, total rainfall could be 20 to over 40 centimeters, with up to over 50 centimeters in some areas, the government weather service said. Heavy rain and storm surge could cause widespread flooding in the area.
Should Ida make landfall around New Orleans on Sunday, it would be on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — a Category 3 storm that caused widespread damage and flooding in addition to about 1,800 deaths.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.