Hurricane Ida Updates: Storm Could Be Among the Strongest to Hit Louisiana since the 1850s, Governor Warns

After hitting Cuba, Ida is expected to strike Louisiana on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, possibly as a Category 4 storm.

LiveUpdated Aug. 28, 2021, 5:12 p.m. ETAug. 28, 2021, 5:12 p.m. ET

After hitting Cuba, Ida is expected to strike Louisiana on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, possibly as a Category 4 storm.

Here’s what you need to know:

Hurricane Ida could be a storm of historical proportion, Louisiana governor says.

Here’s the latest on Hurricane Ida’s path.

How will Ida compare to Katrina?

Covid surge complicates preparations in Louisiana for Hurricane Ida.

People gathered last minute supplies at Rouses supermarket before Hurricane Ida hits in New Orleans, La., on Saturday.Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

Hurricane Ida, the rapidly strengthening storm barreling toward Louisiana, could be one of the strongest to hit the state in more than a century, meteorologists and state officials warned on Saturday.

“We can sum it up by saying this will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards at a news conference, warning residents that their window to evacuate the area was closing.

Ida, which passed through the Cayman Islands as a tropical storm and made landfall in Cuba on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, is causing mass evacuations in Louisiana as meteorologists expect the Category 2 hurricane to strengthen into a Category 4 storm before lashing the state by late Sunday or early Monday morning.

The hurricane could batter Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,” Mr. Edwards said. “But I also want you to know that we’re not the same state that we were 16 years ago.”

The government has invested billions of dollars in improving the region’s storm protection infrastructure. Ida will present a significant test of that system.

On Saturday, a hurricane warning was in effect from Intracoastal City, La., to the mouth of the Pearl River, a region that includes New Orleans. Coastal counties or those near the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi and Alabama were also warning their residents of likely hurricane damage.

Kevin Gilmore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Orleans, said the hurricane will have “life-threatening impacts.”

“We’re not saying, ‘possible,’ — we’re saying, ‘will occur’ because we want people to take this extremely seriously,” Mr. Gilmore said. “I cannot stress enough how significant of a situation this is.”

Louisiana was also battered by several storms last year, including Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

“This will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.Credit…Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate, via Associated Press

Storm surge warnings were issued as well. The National Hurricane Center said that, depending on the tides, the surge could be as high as 15 feet in Morgan City, La., and reach up to 7 feet in Lake Pontchartrain.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today in the warning area along the northern Gulf Coast,” the center said.

By Saturday afternoon, Ida had maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, making it a Category 2 hurricane, and additional strengthening was expected throughout the day, the National Hurricane Center said.

“The strengthening process is definitely in full swing,” said Dennis Feltgen, communications officer with the National Hurricane Center.

The crucial question, for residents and emergency authorities along the Gulf Coast, is how much stronger it will become before making landfall in the United States.

The hurricane center said the storm could grow much stronger very rapidly, becoming a major hurricane — defined as Category 3 or higher, with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 m.p.h. — in the 24 hours before landfall.

Research over the past decade has found that, on average, such rapid intensification of hurricanes is increasing, in part because the oceans, which provide the energy for hurricanes, are getting warmer as a result of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases. But Ida will also strengthen quickly because the Gulf, as is usual at the end of the summer, is very warm.

The hurricane center defines rapid intensification as at least a 35-m.p.h. increase in sustained winds over 24 hours. In the extremely active 2020 season, Hurricane Laura intensified by 45 m.p.h. in the 24 hours before making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm in late August.

The National Hurricane Center said Ida was likely to produce heavy rainfall late Sunday into Monday from southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Tropical storm force winds will arrive along the coast as early as Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service, before the storm makes landfall on Sunday afternoon or evening. After moving inland, the storm could contribute to flooding in Tennessee, where flash flooding killed 20 people last weekend.

“Based upon current track and strength of Ida, this storm will test our hurricane protection systems in a way they haven’t been tested before,” Chip Kline, executive assistant to the governor of Louisiana for coastal activities, said on Twitter. “It’s times like these that remind us of the importance of continuing to protect south Louisiana.”

Correction: Aug. 27, 2021

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the location of Tropical Storm Ida. It was in the Caribbean Sea early Friday, not the Gulf of Mexico.

Jawan Williams shoveled sand for a sandbag held by his son Jayden Williams, before landfall of Hurricane Ida at the Frederick Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette, La., on Saturday.Credit…Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall Sunday, threatening to bring dangerous wind, storm surge and rain to the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years after the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most costly natural disasters in American history, which left more than 1,800 dead and produced more than $100 billion in damages.

The overall impact of storm surge from Ida is predicted to be less severe than during Katrina. Because that storm began as a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before weakening as it approached landfall, it generated enormous storm surge, which brought over 20 feet of water to parts of the Mississippi coast. Current projections put the storm surge of Ida at 10 to 15 feet.

“Fifteen-foot sure can do a lot of damage,” said Barry Keim, a professor at Louisiana State University and Louisiana State Climatologist. “But it’s going to be nothing in comparison with Katrina’s surge.”

Improvements to the levee system following Katrina have better prepared the New Orleans metro area for the storm surge.

However, the areas likely to receive the most severe surge from Ida may be less equipped to handle it than the area hit by Katrina, said Dr. Keim.

Ida is expected to make landfall to the west of where Katrina struck, bringing the most severe storm surge impacts to the Louisiana coast west of the Mississippi River rather than east of the river along coastal Mississippi, as Katrina did.

“We are testing a different part of the flood protection in and around southeast Louisiana than we did in Katrina,” said Dr. Keim. “Some of the weak links in this area maybe haven’t been quite as exposed.”

While the impacts of Ida’s storm surge are expected to be less severe than Katrina’s, Ida’s winds and rain are predicted to exceed those that pummeled the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Ida is expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm with peak winds of 130 mph, while Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 with peak winds of 125 mph.

“It could be quite devastating — especially some of those high rise buildings are just not rated to sustain that wind load,” said Jamie Rhome, acting deputy director of the National Hurricane Center.

The severe damage from Hurricane Laura, which struck southwest Louisiana last year as a Category 4 storm, was caused primarily by high winds peaking at 150 mph. The storm caused 42 deaths and damage costing more than $19 billion.

Ida’s rainfall also threatens to exceed Katrina’s highs.

The National Hurricane Center estimates that Ida will drench the Gulf Coast with 8 to 16 inches of rain and perhaps as much as 20 inches in some places. Katrina brought 5-10 inches of rain with more than 12 inches in the most impacted areas.

“That is a lot of rainfall,” said Mr. Rhome. “Absolutely the flash flood potential in this case is high, very high.” Especially combined with storm surge, he said, such intense levels of rainfall could have a “huge and devastating impact to those local communities.”

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New Orleans Mayor Urges Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, which is also the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents to either evacuate immediately or bunker down in a safe place ahead of the hurricane.

What we know is today, right now, everyone has to make a decision to leave voluntarily, which I’m recommending, do that, prepare yourselves. If you’re going to leave, you need to do that now. We need to make sure that you are in a safe place, everyone, whether you’re going to leave voluntarily or stay onsite, hunkered down. Wherever that is, hopefully that’s your home, in our city, but in a safe space. Prepare for damaging wind, power outages, heavy rain, tornadoes. What I am told is that this storm in no way will be weakening. There will be and there are no signs, again, that this storm will weaken, and there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen. This continues to remain a very fluid situation. And we know, again, that time is not on our side. It’s just, it’s rapidly, it’s growing, it’s intensifying.

Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, which is also the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents to either evacuate immediately or bunker down in a safe place ahead of the hurricane.CreditCredit…Matthew Hinton, via Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — With tracking maps for Hurricane Ida consistently showing an expected pathway toward southeast Louisiana, Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans issued a stern warning on Saturday that city residents who intend to leave should do so immediately.

“In no way will this storm be weakening, and there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen,” Ms. Cantrell said at a news briefing. “Time is not on our side. It’s rapidly growing, it’s intensifying.”

City officials are asking that residents who plan to stay in the city prepare for extended power outages, limited emergency services and several days of high temperatures after the storm passes.

“The first 72 is on you,” said Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “The first three days of this will be difficult for responders to get to you.”

Forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Ida will be a Category 4 storm upon landfall on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 dead.

“What we learned during Hurricane Katrina is we are all first-responders,” Ms. Cantrell said. “It’s about taking care of one another.”

— Chelsea Brasted

A medical worker monitored a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Louisiana earlier this month.Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

In Louisiana, where daily deaths from Covid reached their highest levels this week, stretched hospitals are having to modify the intense preparations they would normally make ahead of an expected strike from Hurricane Ida.

Louisiana’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Kanter, asked residents on Friday to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits to preserve the state’s hospital capacity, which has been vastly diminished by its most severe Covid surge of the pandemic.

And while plans exist to transfer patients away from coastal areas to inland hospitals ahead of a hurricane, this time “evacuations are just not possible,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference.

“The hospitals don’t have room,” he said. “We don’t have any place to bring those patients — not in state, not out of state.”

The governor said officials had asked hospitals to check generators and stockpile more water, oxygen and personal protective supplies than usual for a storm. The implications of a strike from a Category 4 hurricane while hospitals were full were “beyond what our normal plans are,” he added.

Mr. Edwards said he had told President Biden and Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to expect Covid-related emergency requests, including oxygen.

The state’s recent wave of Covid hospitalizations has exceeded its previous three peaks, and staffing shortages have necessitated support from federal and military medical teams. On Friday, 2,684 Covid patients were hospitalized in the state. This week Louisiana reported its highest ever single-day death toll from Covid — 139 people.

Oschner Health, one of the largest local medical systems, informed the state that it had limited capacity to accept storm-related transfers, especially from nursing homes, the group’s chief executive, Warner L. Thomas, said. Many of Oschner’s hospitals, which were caring for 836 Covid patients on Friday, had invested in backup power and water systems to reduce the need to evacuate, he said.

The pandemic also complicated efforts to discharge more patients than usual before the storm hits. For many Covid patients who require oxygen, “going home isn’t really an option,” said Stephanie Manson, chief operating officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, which had 190 Covid inpatients on Friday, 79 of them in intensive care units.

The governor said he feared that the movement of tens or hundreds of thousands of evacuees in the state could cause it to lose gains made in recent days as the number of new coronavirus cases began to drop. Dr. Kanter urged residents who were on the move to wear masks and observe social distancing. Many of the state’s testing and vaccination sites were slated to close temporarily.

New Orleans residents prepared to leave after the mayor asked for voluntary evacuations in anticipation of Hurricane Ida.Credit…Max Becherer/NOLA.com, via The Advocate, via Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — With Hurricane Ida likely to bring powerful winds and heavy rain to their city, residents of New Orleans faced a familiar choice: flee or hunker down for the duration.

The storm was expected to make landfall by late Sunday, and officials were already bracing for the worst.

It was not lost on anyone that Sunday will mark the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,833 people, inflicted more than $100 billion in damage, and put large swaths of the city of New Orleans under water.

The bad timing was just one more psychological burden to bear for New Orleans residents like Victor Pizarro, a health advocate. On Friday afternoon, Mr. Pizarro and his husband decided to ride out the storm in their home in the Gentilly Terrace neighborhood, although they said they would leave town if they lost power for an extended period.

“It’s definitely triggering to even have to think about this and make these decisions,” Mr. Pizarro said in a telephone interview while he drove across town in search of a spare part for his generator. “It’s exhausting to be a New Orleanian and a Louisianian at this point.”

Gov. Jon Bel Edwards of Louisiana declared a state of emergency on Thursday in anticipation of Ida’s arrival and noted that the storm’s rapid approach — it formed in the Caribbean on Thursday — meant that residents needed to act fast, particularly those in low-lying and vulnerable coastal areas.

“This type of threat contains additional problems because the window to prepare is so short,” he said. “By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm.”

The decision to stay or go was made for some area residents on Friday when New Orleans city officials issued mandatory evacuations for residents living outside the levee system, echoing similar mandates for neighboring parishes.

For voluntary evacuations, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Friday, “now is the time.”

By the time Ms. Cantrell spoke, Andy Horowitz and his family had already made the decision to vacate their home in the Algiers Point neighborhood, which sits directly across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. Mr. Horowitz is the author of the acclaimed book “Katrina: A History, 1915-2015,” and he is among those scholars and Louisiana residents who fear that the city’s new flood protection system, as massive as it is, may prove to be inadequate for a sinking city in the likely path of more frequent and powerful storms in the age of climate change.

“Every summer, New Orleans plays a game of Russian roulette, and every summer we pull the trigger,” Mr. Horowitz said.

In a state preparing for a serious beating, many were hoping Ida would at least do her worst quickly and then move on. “The faster it moves, the better it is for us because it doesn’t give the storm time to beat, beat, beat, beat, beat on a roof to where it comes apart,” said Scooter Resweber, the police chief on Grand Isle, a barrier island south of New Orleans.

Mr. Resweber said that all but a few hardened old-timers were planning to evacuate Grand Isle, a small community of shrimpers, oil industry workers and fish camps, by Saturday, when officials planned to close off Louisiana Highway 1, the only road on or off the island.

Further north in Livingston Parish, near Baton Rouge, anxiety was running high, said Brandi Janes, the homeland security director. The community had managed to avoid the worst of the 2020 storms, she said, but a slow-moving 2016 storm brought catastrophic flooding, and now fear of even run-of-the-mill showers.

With Ida growing stronger, and closer, Ms. Janes said, “it’s just dread and worry.”

— Chelsea Brasted

The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier was constructed after Hurricane Katrina to prevent tidal surges from hurricanes from reaching New Orleans.Credit…Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — As Hurricane Ida heads toward a possible Sunday landfall on Louisiana’s coastline, the National Weather Service’s storm surge forecast has local officials warning about the potential for water to overtop some of the levees that protect parts of New Orleans.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans noted at a news briefing on Friday evening that water overtopping the levees “is as it was structured to do.” That reflects the updates to the local system of earthen and reinforced levees that protects much of southeast Louisiana in the years after Hurricane Katrina stretched it to a breaking point.

The system, officials said, was rebuilt to defend against a so-called “100-year-storm,” or a storm that has a 1 percent chance in happening every year, but to remain reinforced up to a 500-year-event. It includes armoring, splash pads — concrete areas designed to keep the ground behind an overtopped wall from being washed away — and pumps with backup generators, officials said.

Heath Jones, an emergency operation manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, said that some levees protecting New Orleans on the western side of the Mississippi River were at risk of overtopping in line with the Weather Service’s forecast calling for between 10 and 15 feet of storm surge. A federal levee database shows sections of levee there as low as 10 feet.

Levees in this part of the state have rarely been challenged since they were shored up in the years after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The previous big tests were (hurricanes) Isaac and Gustav,” said Matt Roe, a public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers, which occurred in 2012 and 2008, “but it’s important to note that each storm is different.”

Ida’s strength, according to Chip Cline, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, “will test our hurricane protection system in a way they haven’t been tested before.”

— Chelsea Brasted

Lake Charles, La., in October last year after being hit by Hurricane Laura.Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

As Hurricane Ida headed toward the Gulf Coast, there were signs that it could rival Hurricane Laura in strength, officials said, stirring painful reminders of the devastation Laura delivered last year and the ways many residents continue to live with its consequences.

Laura hit Lake Charles, La., a city of about 76,000 people, on Aug. 27, 2020, and the one-year anniversary on Friday was an agonizing marker of how long many people were forced to live in hotels, camper trailers or homes that were barely inhabitable because of the storm’s toll. Elected officials also noted the lack of federal support that they believe the city still needs.

“Thank you for being tougher than you should need to be,” Nic Hunter, the mayor, said in a post on his Facebook page.

Laura was just the first of a series of weather crises to hit Lake Charles and the southwestern corner of Louisiana over the past year. Hurricane Delta cut a similar path through the state roughly six weeks later. That was followed by a winter storm that swept over the region, causing pipes to burst in homes and knocking out water systems. Then, heavy rainfall unleashed flooding in May.

In the city on Friday, residents were stocking up on supplies and carefully watching the forecast, waiting to see whether Ida would veer in their direction. Some gas stations had even sold out of fuel.

“We’re just kind of taking a close look here at the weather,” said George Swift, the president and chief executive of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “I’ve noticed folks all over town gearing up.”

As tough as another storm would be, he added, it is part of reality of life on the Gulf Coast. “It’s just something you have to deal with,” Mr. Swift said.

Homes in Lake Charles, La., were covered with blue tarps after being hit by Hurricane Laura. Then Hurricane Delta swept through, knocking down trees and scattering debris from the previous storm.Credit…William Widmer for The New York Times

Hurricane Ida threatens to be the first major storm to strike the Gulf Coast during the 2021 season, hitting a region in many ways still grappling with the physical and emotional toll of a punishing run of hurricanes last year.

The Atlantic hurricane season of 2020 was the busiest on record, with 30 named storms, 13 of which reached hurricane strength. There were so many storms that forecasters ran through the alphabet and had to take the rare step of calling storms by Greek letters.

Louisiana was dealt the harshest blow, barraged repeatedly by storms, including Hurricane Laura, which was one of the most powerful to hit the state, trailed six weeks later by Delta, which was weaker than Laura but followed a nearly identical path, inflicting considerable pain on communities still gripped by the devastation from the earlier storm.

The state is still struggling to claw its way back. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said the state had $3 billion in unmet recovery needs. In Lake Charles, which was ravaged by direct hits from both hurricanes followed by a deadly winter storm and flooding in May, local officials recently renewed a plea for federal aid as the city has failed to regain its footing; much of it has yet to recover and many residents, unable to find adequate or affordable housing, have fled.

The looming impact of Ida underscores the persisting danger imperiling coastal communities as a changing climate stands to intensify the destructive force of the storms that have always been a seasonal part of life.

President Biden cited the growing danger in May when he announced a significant increase in funding to build and bolster infrastructure in communities most likely to face the wrath of extreme weather.

Workers close a floodgate in Metarie, La., as Hurricane Ida approaches on Saturday.Credit…Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune & The Advocate, via Associated Press

Hurricane Ida was upgraded to Category 2 on Saturday as it intensified on its way toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, where people were preparing for it to make landfall as a life-threatening Category 4 storm in what officials said could be the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana in at least 165 years.

Ida, which was expected to make landfall on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, had moved away from Cuba and was moving toward the Louisiana coast with sustained wind speeds of 105 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said that Ida would be the strongest storm to hit the state since at least the 1850s. In 1856, a hurricane leveled Louisiana’s Last Island and killed more than 200 people, according to the National Weather Service.

Mr. Edwards warned evacuees in a news briefing on Saturday, a day after he declared a state of emergency, that their “window of time is closing.”

“It is rapidly closing,” he said.

The state authorities are preparing to respond and have almost 200 buses standing by to evacuate Louisianans, including nursing home residents, he said. The authorities have closed more than 200 floodgates, and more than 5,000 National Guard members, along with rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are preparing to help in relief efforts.

“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday,” the hurricane center said on Saturday, adding that parts of Louisiana could expect life-threatening floods when the storm makes landfall.

The center of the storm would most likely reach Louisiana early on Monday as a hurricane, with maximum winds of 110 m.p.h. and gusts of up to 130 m.p.h., according to the center’s tracking model and the National Weather Service in Shreveport, La. Ida was expected to then turn northward and weaken as it churned through Louisiana and western Mississippi, forecasters said.

By 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the Weather Service in Shreveport reported that Ida had become a Category 2 hurricane.

Tropical storm-force winds could arrive as early as Saturday night, the National Weather Service in New Orleans said on Twitter. The Weather Service urged those under evacuation orders to leave. “Some areas may be uninhabitable for weeks,” it said on Twitter.

Sections of the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts should be prepared for life-threatening storm surges of up to 15 feet on Sunday, the center said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans ordered all residents outside the city’s levee system to evacuate, and she said on Saturday that they need to be sheltered in place by midnight. The areas under the evacuation order included the city’s Lake Catherine, Venetian Isles and Irish Bayou areas, the mayor said on Twitter.

“In no way will this storm be weakening, and there’s always an opportunity for the storm to strengthen,” Ms. Cantrell said at a news briefing. “Time is not on our side. It’s rapidly growing, it’s intensifying.”

She added that the city authorities were setting up a shelter for after the hurricane at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the same place thousands of evacuees flocked to after Hurricane Katrina.

Collin Arnold, the director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, warned on Saturday that residents should expect power failures and should have enough food and water to last three days.

Traffic camera footage showed local highways clogged as people rushed to flee New Orleans. Farther south, in Lafourche and Plaquemines Parishes, the authorities enacted nighttime curfews on Saturday.

Along the Gulf Coast, a hurricane watch was issued for the New Orleans metropolitan area and the area between Cameron, La., and the border of Mississippi and Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in the state. That storm unleashed catastrophic floods and blistering winds, producing one of country’s costliest disasters ever.

It has been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who monitored three named storms that formed in quick succession in the Atlantic, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to different parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

First came Tropical Storm Fred, which made landfall on Aug. 16 in the Florida Panhandle. As Fred moved across the Southeast, it brought heavy rains and touched off several tornadoes. At least five people were killed after flash floods wiped out homes in western North Carolina in the wake of the storm.

Hurricane Ida moving across Cuba and toward the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.Credit…NOAA

Grace formed in the eastern Caribbean on Aug. 14, the same day a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti’s western peninsula. The storm quickly moved west as the country struggled to free people trapped in rubble, bringing at least 10 inches of rain. Grace then made another landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula, bringing more heavy rain, power failures and hundreds of evacuations. A third landfall, on the eastern coast of Mexico’s mainland, left at least eight people dead.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Emily Kask for The New York Times

What is “landfall”? And what are you truly facing when you’re in the eye of the storm?

During hurricane season, news coverage and forecasts can include a host of confusing terms. Let’s take a look at what they mean ->

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

You may read about hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones. So what’s the difference? Location.

“Hurricane” is largely used in the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific; “typhoon,” in the Northwest Pacific; and “cyclone” in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The Atlantic season, when hurricanes and tropical storms are most likely to hit the U.S., runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

NOAA

Here’s what all these storms have in common: They’re low-pressure circular systems that form over warm waters. A system becomes a tropical storm when its winds exceed 39 miles an hour. At 74 miles an hour, it’s a hurricane.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Forecasters regularly talk about parts of the storm like the eye, the eyewall and the wall cloud:

The eye of a storm is the circular area of relatively light winds, even shining sun, at its center. Conditions may be calm within the eye.

But wrapped around it is the eyewall, a ring of cumulonimbus clouds also known as a wall cloud. It contains the strongest winds of a hurricane.

How to Decode Hurricane Season Terms

Karen Zraick and Christina CaronReporting on the weather ?

Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Perhaps counterintuitively, a storm doesn’t make landfall when its outer edge meets land.

Instead, landfall is when the eye crosses the shoreline.

Aug. 18, 2021

Item 1 of 6

And Henri formed on Aug. 16 as a tropical storm off the East Coast of the United States.

It strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane but was downgraded before making landfall in Rhode Island, sparing the region the worst of what had been predicted. It thrashed the Northeast with fierce winds and torrential rain, knocking out power to more than 140,000 households from New Jersey to Maine. Some communities in Connecticut were evacuated and rainfall records in New York City were shattered.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surges — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

A major United Nations climate report released in August warned that nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, leading to more frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have probably become more intense over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic. In early August, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.

Matthew Rosencrans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30. Ida is the ninth named storm of 2021.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Neil Vigdor, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Christine Hauser and Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.

— The New York Times

A fallen tree and electricity pole were cleared as Hurricane Nora approaches Manzanillo, Mexico, on Sunday.Credit…Reuters

Hurricane Nora formed in the eastern Pacific on Saturday morning, threatening much of Mexico’s western coastline as the storm strengthens and barrels its way toward Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco and the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, forecasters said.

As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nora was about 425 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour as it moved north, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning was in effect for parts of western Mexico.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to cause flooding, mudslides and perilous surf along much of Mexico’s central and northern Pacific Coast.

The remnants of the storm are expected to produce heavy rainfall in parts of the southwestern U.S. and central Rockies toward the middle of next week, forecasters said.

A forecast track from the National Hurricane Center showed Nora skirting close to Mexico’s coastline by Sunday morning before moving toward the Gulf of California a day later.

“Some additional strengthening is forecast through tonight if Nora’s center does not make landfall,” the National Hurricane Center said in an update. “Some gradual weakening is expected to begin by Sunday night or Monday, but Nora is forecast to remain as a hurricane through Tuesday.”

Nora is expected to produce rainfall totals of up to 12 inches this weekend along Mexico’s western coast.

It has been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who are monitoring Hurricane Ida this weekend after having monitored three named storms that formed in quick succession in the Atlantic, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to different parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to see stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surges — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

Delery Street in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans was flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.Credit…Nicole Bengiveno/ New York Times

NEW ORLEANS — On Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Willie L. Calhoun Jr., a 71-year-old resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, was in his Lincoln Continental on the brink of getting out of town. He was not quite sure where. Somewhere in Alabama, he figured.

Rev. Calhoun remembers his father smashing a hole in the roof of his family’s home in the Lower Ninth in 1965, when Hurricane Betsy put 10 feet of water in his house. When Katrina came, he and his family made sure to get out of the neighborhood before the storm destroyed their homes — unlike many of his neighbors, some of whom perished when the levees failed.

The pain from Katrina was now an indelible fact of life in the neighborhood. He had hoped to take part in a 16th anniversary commemoration on Sunday, with a high school marching band and a theme, he said, of “healing, unifying and strengthening our communities.”

“The trauma, and the hurt that’s there,” he said. “I have one friend who lost his mother and his granddaughter in Katrina. For that trauma to be revisited every year is a tough thing.”

But his perspective on the neighborhood 16 years on was somewhat nuanced. He felt confident that the improvements to the city’s storm protection system — with its mammoth flood walls and new gates and levees — would keep the Ninth Ward safe. His worry, he said, was the damage from the wind that comes with a Category 4 hurricane.

And yet it was difficult not to be disappointed. The jobs for Black men seemed to have dried up in the city. A revamped post-Katrina educational system, heavily reliant on charter schools, did not seem, in Rev. Calhoun’s opinion, to have done much good. The neighborhood was in need of economic stimulus. Still full of empty lots, and ghostly foundations of homes, many of them owned by Black families, long washed away.

After $20 billion in infrastructure improvements, it felt, at best, like partial progress, and like survival with an asterisk.

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