Hurricane Ida, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, made landfall in southeast Louisiana on Sunday as federal authorities warned of “catastrophic” damage that could threaten all homes and people in its path.
Ida made landfall over Port Fourchon, Louisiana, at about 11:55 a.m. CDT as the storm moved into the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center said.
The latest on Hurricane Ida:
- Hurricane Ida made landfall along the Gulf Coast — near Port Fourchon, Louisiana — on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
- The storm is currently a powerful Category 4 with top sustained winds of 150 mph. The National Hurricane Center warns of “catastrophic wind damage” and “extremely life-threatening” storm surges.
- All flights have been canceled at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. President Joe Biden has deployed emergency response resources from FEMA to the area.
- Find more up-to-the-minute updates at our live blog.
Air Force Reserve aircraft and radar data showed that “Ida’s maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated to be 150 mph,” the NHC added.
“Be calm in the midst of this storm. You can be calm,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told her constituents during a briefing on Sunday, just as Ida was making landfall.
“You have everything that you need. We will get through this together. Be prepared. Stay where you are.”
At landfall, the storm’s wind speeds were just short of 157 mph, the level considered a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, which rates storms from 1 to 5 based on maximum sustained wind speed.
Only four storms have made landfall in the continental United States as Category 5 hurricanes in the last century: the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992 and Michael in 2018.
“Everybody in the path of Ida should be prepared for very heavy rainfall, very strong winds, life-threatening storm surge along the coast and isolated tornados as well,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer McNatt told NBC News on Sunday.
The storm is expected to move “well inland” over portions of Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday, although rapid weakening is anticipated once it hits land.
The NHC said to expect “extremely life-threatening” storm surge inundation imminently within the area between Burns Point, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It added that “catastrophic wind damage” is likely as Ida moves onshore along the southeast coast of Louisiana over the next few hours.
The center also said the region might see tornados Sunday into Monday from southeast Louisiana all the way to the western Florida Panhandle.
With all Sunday flights canceled in New Orleans, tens of thousands fled by car, clogging highways.
McNatt said drivers should watch out for flash flooding.
“There’s a lot of people that drive into flooded roads and it causes them to be swept off the roads,” she added.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state had 600 people and teams from 15 states standing by to perform search and rescue. The government has told people who don’t evacuate to be prepared to ride it out on their own for 72 hours without help.
“We’re as ready as we can be,” Edwards told CNN. “It’s going to be a very, very challenging storm.”
The 16th anniversary of Katrina
As the city marks the 16-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, those remaining are bracing for the worst.
Mayor Cantrell said Saturday that the hurricane had developed “more rapidly than anyone has prepared for and there are no indications at all that it will weaken.”
She said it was too late for the city to order a mandatory evacuation and called for residents to either evacuate the city voluntarily or shelter in place and “hunker down.”
City officials said Sunday they’re confident their levee systems will withstand Ida.
“We are really confident that the levee system as constructed now” will survive this storm, said Ramsey Green, deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure for New Orleans.
“We’re very confident in a way that we have never, as a community, been before. It’s a different time, it’s a different place. And we’ve had 16 years to really protect our city from what occurred tragically on this date 16 years ago.”
President Joe Biden also told Louisiana residents to “pay attention and be prepared” in a statement posted on Twitter Saturday. He added that he had been briefed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on preparations for the storm.
“We have deployed emergency response personnel and pre-positioned food, water, generators, and supplies to make sure we’re ready to respond,” he said.