Hurricane Ida expected to be ‘catastrophic’ category 4, Louisiana governor warns amid evacuation efforts

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A photo provided by the National Hurricane Center of what is expected to become Hurricane Ida (NOAA)
A photo provided by the National Hurricane Center of what is expected to become Hurricane Ida (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida, the massive hurricane set to make contact with Louisiana tomorrow, is looking even stronger than expected, governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference on Friday.

“Hurricane Ida is rapidly intensifying and the situation is changing it seems by the hour,” he said during his remarks. “We now believe there is a strong likelihood this will be a category 4 storm at landfall, that’s how quickly the storm is developing.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, category 4 storms mean “catastrophic damage will occur,” including winds of at least 130 mph and widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.

Ida will likely make landfall on Sunday, and is intensifying “ahead of schedule,” the governor added. He urged Louisianans to finalise their preparations for the hurricane over the next 24 hours.

“The next 24 hours are very, very important,” he said. “Now is the time to finish your prep. I want to encourage everyone to understand, by nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to ride out the storm , and you need to be postured how you want to be as that storm approaches you.”

The White House has granted the state’s request, made late on Thursday, for a pre-landfall federal declaration of emergency for the “very serious storm.”

“This is stronger than [Hurricane] Laura was last year,” said Benjamin Schott, of the National Weather Service. “This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared for what Ida is going to throw at us later this weekend.”