Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, just before noon local time on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm hit with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, 7 mph short of being just the fifth Category 5 storm to hit the U.S. Ida, which made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, then ground across the “toe” of the state’s “boot” for about the next 16 hours, causing massive damage. The storm knocked out all eight transmission lines that deliver power, plummeting all of New Orleans into darkness. More than 1.1 million customers were without power in Louisiana and Mississippi as of 7:00 a.m. Monday.
Supercharged by climate
Heavy rain, combined with storm surge, caused catastrophic impacts along the southeast coast of Louisiana with life-threatening flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service. Ida rapidly intensified from a Category 1 to a Category 4 Major Hurricane in less than 24 hours. It was supercharged by exceptionally warm waters in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. These phenomena are driven and made more common by climate change caused by human extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The rapid intensification limited forewarning and prevented large-scale evacuation efforts, especially for those who are disabled or those unable to afford to evacuate — a crisis compounded by looming evictions in the region.
Flooding was especially severe in LaPlace, leaving many residents stranded. So far, only one death has been officially reported, a number sadly, almost certain to rise. The impact of the climate-supercharged storm will be made far worse by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, itself made worse by the widespread denial and rejection of science. As of 4:00 a.m. local time, now-Tropical Storm Ida had passed into southwest Mississippi, bringing heavy rainfall, and more flooding. (AP, Washington Post $, ABC; LaPlace Flooding: Washington Post $; Outages: NOLA.com, WAFB9, AP, AP; Evictions: Mississippi Free Press; COVID: Reuters, Axios, AP; Current path: NOLA.com, Washington Post $)