Hurricane Ida was rapidly intensifying early Sunday, becoming a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on track for a potentially devastating landfall on the Louisiana coast.
The storm was centred about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southeast of coastal Houma, Louisiana, and was travelling northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).
What is a Category 4 storm?
The National Hurricane Center predicted that Ida would become an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph (209 kph) winds - that happened early Sunday ahead of an expected afternoon landfall.
Category 4 hurricanes are tropical cyclones that reach Category 4 intensity on the Saffir–Simpson scale. Category 4 hurricanes have maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph (209–251 km/h).
Such storms can completely destroy mobile homes and other buildings that do not have fixed structures. The lower floors of more resolute structures are the ones to suffer major damage.
Comparisons with Katrina:
Comparisons to Aug. 29, 2005, landfall of Katrina weighed heavily on residents bracing for Ida. A Category 3 storm, Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths as it demolished oceanfront homes in Mississippi and caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans. It is termed as the costliest disaster in the history of the USA.
How officials are preparing to combat the hurricane:
United States has deployed 500 FEMA emergency personnel in Texas and Louisiana.
In New Orleans, 13 Urban Search and Rescue teams are in place to respond to the needs of people who are not able to get out. More than 100 ground ambulances and 20 air ambulances have been deployed to support evacuations of nursing homes in the storm's path.
New Orleans hospitals planned to ride out the storm with their beds nearly full, as similarly stressed hospitals elsewhere had little room for evacuated patients. And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added risk of becoming flashpoints for new infections.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana officials were already working to find hotel rooms for many evacuees so that fewer had to stay in mass shelters.
President Joe Biden has approved an Emergency Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana, authorizing emergency preparation and protective measures, including direct Federal assistance such as power generation, air transportation assets, wildlife management assistance, and water management for all 64 parishes.
The President has declared an emergency in the state of Mississippi ahead of Hurricane Ida's landfall, the White House has announced.