Roads in and out of New Orleans were gridlocked Saturday as residents fled ahead of what Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards described as a “rapidly intensifying” Hurricane Ida.
There’s a “strong likelihood” the storm will be a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mile per hour winds when it hits the state’s southeastern coast Sunday evening, Edwards said.
The massive storm has eery timing: it’s expected to strike New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Category 4 is the second-highest classification for hurricanes on what’s called the Saffir-Simpson scale. Storms of that grade see winds of between 130 and 156 miles per hour.
Gusts could read 170 mph, while the storm may bring as much as 20 inches of rain and a 15-foot storm surge in some areas, Edwards said in a news conference Saturday.
Gulf Coast residents have been encouraged to evacuate. Many were stuck in traffic jams as they tried to make their way out of Ida’s path, Nola.com reported.
“By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to ride out the storm,” said Edwards, who activated all 5,000 of the state’s National Guard members to respond to Ida.
In a 2 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center advised the growing storm had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.
“Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane,” the advisory said.