The mayor of New Orleans called on residents to evacuate unprotected neighborhoods, as Hurricane Ida headed toward the coast of Louisiana, in the southern United States.
“Now is the time,” Mayor Latoya Cantrell told a news conference, calling on those who live outside the city’s levee system to flee.
The US National Hurricane Center says Ida is likely to be extremely dangerous by Sunday.
The hurricane has already brought torrential rains and strong winds to western Cuba.
The impact of climate change on storm frequency remains unclear, but rising sea surface temperatures are known to warm the air above, providing more energy to drive hurricanes and storms. As a result, it is likely to be more powerful with heavy rain.
Forecasters say it will be a Category 4 hurricane by the time it reaches the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a life-changing storm for those who haven’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott told The Associated Press.
More than 80 oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated, and half of the region’s oil and gas production has been suspended.
Hurricane Ida passed over western Cuba on Friday, reaching Juventud or “Island of Youth”, the country’s largest island, with maximum winds of 120 kilometers per hour.
Ironically, Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 after making landfall with a Category 3 intensity. Hurricane Katrina caused floods that submerged 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,800 people.
Serious storms are also expected to hit Cuba and the United States. Experts warn that if these storms hit at high tide, seawater could flow over New Orleans’ levee system and into the city.
The levees are a system of flood walls built to protect low-lying New Orleans and reinforced after the 2005 devastation.
Warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico are intensifying the flash storm, the National Weather Service said, adding that flooding could also affect neighboring Mississippi and Alabama.
The National Hurricane Center’s bulletin said: “A moderate to rapid increase in strength is expected for Hurricane Ida, as it moves over the southeast and central Gulf of Mexico over the weekend (Sunday), and a significant hurricane is expected when it approaches the coast.” the northern Gulf.
Louisiana Governor Bill Edwards declared a state of emergency and called on anyone along the state’s coast to take shelter in place starting Saturday evening.
The White House said the federal government was also developing plans to provide urgent relief.
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