Hurricane Ida could strike Louisiana with catastrophic force exceeding that of historic Hurricane Laura last year, the National Weather Service’s chief meteorologist in New Orleans said on Friday.
Meteorologist Benjamin Schott joined Governor John Bel Edwards at his press conference, where he scheduled a Category 4 landing somewhere near the parishes of Terrebonne and St. Mary’s with possible sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts of 170 mph.
“Hurricane Ida developed much earlier than expected,” said Schott. “It will be a storm that will change the lives of some people.”
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Edwards said he expects much of the state to lose power from where Hurricane Ida made landfall and as it heads north across the state.
“The rapid escalation is occurring to a greater degree than expected,” said Edwards. “The situation is changing hour by hour. We now believe that there is a high probability that it is a Category 4 hurricane on landing.
“It’s a sobering forecast,” Edwards said.
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The governor said he had activated the entire Louisiana National Guard, including about 5,000 troops.
He said the National Guard is already positioning vehicles on the high seas for search and rescue.
Edwards said 5,000 power linemen are also able to deploy after the storm and another 12,000 are available to enter the state.
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The governor said he spoke with President Biden on Friday afternoon, who issued a federal declaration of emergency before the landing.
“By nightfall (Saturday) you have to be where you intend to weather the storm,” Edwards said.