The Washington Post published that Hurricane Ida slammed into southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm with 150-mph winds Sunday afternoon, tying for the most intense hurricane landfall in the state’s history. Downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning, Ida’s top threat is flooding rainfall as it trudges through Mississippi, the Tennessee Valley and, ultimately, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
At 11 a.m. Monday, Ida was centered 40 miles southwest of Jackson, Miss., packing peak winds of 40 mph, slowly heading to the north at 9 mph.
Ida is predicted to weaken to a tropical depression Monday afternoon, so the threat from strong winds will gradually diminish, though gusty conditions remain possible in southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama until Monday night.
Live updates: Ida leaves 1 million without power as it heads into Miss.
As the storm swept ashore near Port Fourchon early afternoon Sunday, it unleashed wind gusts over 170 mph, while its surge, or storm-driven rise in ocean water above normally dry land, resulted in up to seven feet or so of inundation along the coast of southeast Louisiana and Mississippi. In New Orleans, winds gusted up to 90 mph as the entire city lost power.
Widespread torrential rain produced totals of 5 to 10 inches, with up to 15 inches locally, causing severe flash flooding that topped levees and engulfed communities, requiring hundreds of high-water rescues.
While the most dangerous phase of this storm has ended, conditions are hazardous in the areas hit hard by destructive winds and flooding.
“In areas that experienced damage and power loss, individuals should use extreme caution during the recovery phase,” the National Hurricane Center wrote. “Post-storm fatalities and injuries often result from heart attacks, heat exhaustion, accidents related to clean up and recovery, and carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use.”
Moreover, through Thursday, Ida is still predicted to produce heavy rain and potential flooding in at least a dozen states, from Mississippi to Massachusetts.
“Considerable flash flooding is possible from the Lower Mississippi Valley through the Middle Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, Central/Southern Appalachians, and into the Mid-Atlantic,” the Hurricane Center cautioned.
In addition, there is the risk of some tornadoes near and east of Ida’s track.
The rain forecast
Underscoring the risk of heavy rainfall and flash flooding, the National Weather Service has described the situation as a Level 3 out of 4 risk of excessive rainfall.
Heavy rain will still be an enormous issue for many in the Mississippi Valley, an area that has been hard-hit by heavy rainfall as of late and doesn’t need any more of it. Totals in central and eastern Mississippi should range between four and six inches, with three to five inches probable in western Alabama west of Interstate 65.
The rain should enter southwest Tennessee by shortly after noon and quickly become moderate to heavy as the center of Ida treks along the Alabama-Tennessee border. Showers will linger over the Cumberland Plateau early on Tuesday before the system finally escapes the state. In most places, the rain should last 12 to 18 hours, and could dump three to six inches, with isolated higher amounts — including in the town of Waverly, northwest of Nashville, where 21 people were killed last weekend amid catastrophic flooding; more than 15 inches of rain came down in barely six hours.