Ida hurtled closer to the Gulf Coast on Saturday, a treacherous storm that could lash Louisiana within 24 hours as a Category 4 hurricane – 16 years to the day that Katrina delivered its devastating blow.
The system, fueled by exceptionally warm waters in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, was expected to quickly intensify Saturday and could make a direct hit on the state Sunday afternoon or evening with possible life-threatening storm surge, fierce flooding and catastrophic 140-mph winds, forecasters warned.
“Today is it,” Jamie Rhome, acting deputy director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Saturday. “If you’re in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, you really, really have to get going because today is it in terms of protecting life and property.”
Many appeared to be heeding the warning: Traffic clogged routes westward early Saturday, particularly out of New Orleans, and gas stations were bustling.
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