Ida, which didn’t even exist until yesterday afternoon, has in the space of that time become a tropical storm and then a hurricane, and is likely to be a major hurricane by tomorrow: possibly a catastrophic Category 4 or 5 storm, given the intense heat radiating out of the Gulf of Mexico’s water at the moment.
My friend Steve the weather guy says that conditions are making for an unusually tight track projection: this thing is going to make landfall somewhere on the Louisiana coast late Sunday night or early Monday morning. The only real question is how hard New Orleans will get hit. The levees have been strengthened since Katrina, but the levees don’t protect the whole city, plus there’s a point at which they won’t hold if the hurricane is big enough.
This creates a difficult situation for the local government, since there’s no guarantee of course that Ida will actually become a major hurricane, and a mass evacuation will be worse than useless if it isn’t ordered in the next 24 hours at the latest.
This will be the fourth hurricane and possibly the third major hurricane to hit Louisiana in the last 12 months.