As predicted by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), based on an ensemble of various computer-based weather models, hurricane Ida underwent “rapid intensification” overnight as it traversed the warm waters of the Gulf region and now has max sustained wind speeds of 150 mph. It is a Category 4 hurricane now and further strengthening is expected before it make landfall in a few hours. Irrespective of whether speeds are 140 mph or 155 mph, Ida is categorized as a very dangerous storm, capable of catastrophic damage caused by high winds, storm surge, heavy rain, flash floods and tornadoes.

Extreme wind warnings are up. The eye is 17 miles wide eye, hurricane-force winds
extend outward about 50 mi to the northeast of the center, and the tropical-storm-force wind field extends outward about 150 mi northeast of the center. www.nhc.noaa.gov/…

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Storm surges can be devastating and life-threatening.

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Further inland, Ida will bring heavy rains, as it travels from LA to MS, TN, KY, WV, DC, PHI and NYC.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS — www.nhc.noaa.gov/… issued at 11:00 AM EDT.

INIT  29/1500Z 28.8N  90.0W  130 KT 150 MPH
12H  30/0000Z 30.0N  90.8W   90 KT 105 MPH…INLAND
24H  30/1200Z 31.6N  91.0W   50 KT  60 MPH…INLAND
36H  31/0000Z 33.2N  90.3W   30 KT  35 MPH…INLAND
48H  31/1200Z 34.9N  88.5W   25 KT  30 MPH…INLAND
60H  01/0000Z 36.4N  85.9W   20 KT  25 MPH…INLAND
72H  01/1200Z 37.8N  82.5W   20 KT  25 MPH…POST-TROP/INLAND
96H  02/1200Z 40.5N  74.2W   30 KT  35 MPH…POST-TROP/EXTRATROP

Here is some satellite imagery of the monster that is currently spinning off the Louisiana coast —

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With lightning …

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Ida has a few more hours of warm waters to traverse, after which it will hit a patch of cooler and shallower water near the coast.

NOAA and Hurricane Hunter aircraft have been busy flying into the hurricane, making measurements and providing valuable inputs to hurricane forecasting models.

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Here is a video of one of their flights yesterday –

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Central pressure has fallen to 930 mb; it was around 970 mb just 12 hours ago.

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Here is a quick cheat sheet on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale –

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Ground Preparations

In addition to evacuations and other preparations, utility crews, from far and wide, are standing by to move in to help restore power as the storm moves on. Hats off and prayers for them and other emergency responders.

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NOLA’s upgraded storm protection system will be put to the test. The federal government has spent $14.5 billion on levees, pumps, seawalls, floodgates and drainage that provides enhanced protection from storm surge and flooding in New Orleans and surrounding suburbs south of Lake Pontchartrain.

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Also, keep in mind that Ida has a fraction of the energy of Katrina. That fact, the better level of preparedness and the fact that we actually have a competent set of leaders in the White House, should be cause for some reassurance.

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Hurricane seasons and names
We are currently about a third of our way into the Atlantic Hurricane Season, the peak occurs in September, with a substantial number occurring in October.

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Keep in mind that Ida is the first hurricane to strike the U.S. this season. 2021 is predicted to have an above average number of storms and hurricanes, not quite as many as the monster season of 2020, when we ran out of standard names and had to use Greek letter names like delta, zeta and iota for the last few storms. 2020 had 30 named storms, including 14 hurricanes.

The use of the Greek letter names has now been discontinued. Instead, if the regular naming list is exhausted, an auxiliary list consisting of 21 given names would be used, which will allow the names to be retired.

Hurricane season 2021

There are various organizations with predictions for the 2021 hurricane season, listed at en.wikipedia.org/…. Colorado State University issued its seasonal prediction in April with 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes, and an ACE index of 150 units.

    ccording to NOAA and CSU, the average Atlantic hurricane season between 1991 and 2020 contained roughly 14 tropical storms, seven hurricanes, three major hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index of 72–111 units. ACE is a measure of the power of a tropical or subtropical storm multiplied by the length of time it existed. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season clocked in at 184.5 ACE units.

    The score so far in 2021 —

    • Total storms    10
    • Hurricanes    4
    • Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+)    2

    According to scientists, global warming will lead not necessarily to an increase in number of such storms, but it will result in stronger and more intense storms, many capable of rapid intensification.

    Epilogue

    Hopefully, whatever preparations, including evacuations, that have to be done have been made in coastal regions. For those who could not leave — and that includes emergency responders, utility workers, doctors, nurses and staff of hospitals who cannot move patients given how unnecessarily full they are around the region with COVID-19 patients — we hope they know what additional preparations need to be made in the few hours ahead and we hope that they have the mental strength to deal with the aftermath. Unfortunately, this scenario will play out again and again, this year and in the years ahead, especially if republicans come back into power, by hook and by crook. Hence, all the more urgency to keep working to make sure Democrats keep the hand on the steering wheel.

    Please post more info as the situation develops … and keep the comments helpful, not scornful.

    Additional links and resources

    1. NOAA One-stop event page for #Ida — www.noaa.gov/…
    2. NHC — www.nhc.noaa.gov
    3. MS road closures www.mdottraffic.com/…
    4. MS Power outage map — poweroutage.us/…
    5. Real-time aircraft reconnaissance data and lots of other technical info — www.tropicaltidbits.com/…
    6. How climate change is making hurricanes more dangerous — yaleclimateconnections.org/…
    7. How To Tame a Hurricane — www.dailykos.com/
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    This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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