The Florida Panhandle remains on alert for potential impacts from Tropical Storm Ida after the storm strengthened to a Category 1 Hurricane on Friday.
Earlier this afternoon, Ida strengthened to a hurricane as it approached Cuba, boasting maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. In a midday public advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted that the storm made landfall on Cuba’s Isle of Youth just before 2 p.m. NHC also said that Ida is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 with 120 mph winds on Aug. 29. As of now, landfall is expected in southeast Louisiana near Grand Isle.
1:15 PM EDT: Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that #Ida has strengthened to a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Tropical storm conditions are occurring on Cayo Largo, Cuba https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/aYXq5lRDq1
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 27, 2021
Forecasters added that up to 20 inches of rain is possible from the system across numerous Gulf Coast states. Hurricane watches and storm surge watches are in effect from the Texas/Louisiana border to the Alabama/Florida border. The system is expected to continue moving to the northwest at 15 mph.
Aug. 29 is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Louisiana coast as a category 4 major hurricane in 2005 and is the costliest U.S. property loss catastrophe on record. During last year’s record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, four hurricanes made landfall along the northern Gulf Coast. Laura, Delta and Zeta made landfall in Louisiana while Sally made landfall in Alabama. Laura was a category 4 major hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall at Cameron Parrish, La.
Thus far in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, there have been nine named storms and three hurricanes: Elsa, Grace and Henri. On Aug. 22, Henri made landfall as a tropical storm along the Rhode Island coast. Elsa and Fred made landfall in Florida as tropical storms on July 7 and Aug. 16, respectively. Grace did not make a U.S. landfall but became the first major hurricane of 2021 on Aug. 20. A typical hurricane season has 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Hurricane season continues through Nov. 30.