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Hurricane Ida continues to strengthen, on track to slam Louisiana with dangerous winds and storm surge logo 8/29/2021 Len Melisurgo,

UPDATE (Sunday, Aug. 29): Hurricane Ida intensifies to Category 4 storm on approach to Louisiana

Hurricane Ida continued to rapidly strengthen Saturday afternoon as it swirled farther north in the Gulf of Mexico, and forecasters are urging people in Louisiana to prepare for a direct hit along the Gulf Coast on Sunday.

Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center say Ida — fueled by extremely warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico — could grow into a fierce and dangerous Category 4 hurricane, packing top sustained winds of 130 mph or higher, before it slams into the southern United States, slightly west of New Orleans.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Hurricane Ida was centered about 240 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 325 miles southeast of Houma, Louisiana, with its maximum sustained winds increasing to 105 mph. Early Saturday morning, Ida’s top winds were blowing at 80 mph, so the storm intensified significantly during the past 12 hours.

If Ida continues on its current forecast track, its center of circulation will move over the central Gulf of Mexico through Saturday night and the hurricane will make landfall along the central coast of Louisiana Sunday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane will then move inland over parts of Louisiana and western Mississippi, likely weakening to a tropical storm Monday afternoon and then to a tropical depression by early Tuesday morning, according to the latest forecast track.

“Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 12 to 24 hours and Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it makes landfall along the Louisiana coast on Sunday,” the hurricane center noted in a public advisory.

Forecasters are warning people along the northern Gulf Coast to brace for a “life-threatening storm surge, potentially catastrophic wind damage and flooding rainfall” starting Sunday.

Ida could drop heavy rain on N.J. region

Although the official forecast cone on the latest storm track doesn’t extend up into Pennsylvania or New Jersey, forecasters from the National Weather Service say there’s a strong possibility our region could get hit with heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

UPDATE (Sunday, Aug. 29): The weather service’s regional office in Mount Holly says its forecast region — which covers most of New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland and all of Delaware — could get as much as 4 to 6 inches of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

The “rain will result in flash flooding & river flooding Tuesday night through Wednesday, & flooding is likely to last through the end of the week,” the weather service said in a post on Twitter.

Forecasters in New Jersey are concerned about the potential impacts from Ida because the state has been inundated with heavy rain during the past two months and the ground in many areas is saturated, boosting the risk of flash flooding.

New Jersey was pounded by torrential rain and widespread flooding last weekend when moisture from Tropical Storm Henri saturated the region, and some parts of the state were hit with additional heavy rain from slow-moving showers and thunderstorms during the past two days.

Although the weather service has lifted all the flash flood watches that had been active in many counties across New Jersey on Saturday, forecasters say spotty rain showers and thunderstorms could move in Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Current weather radar

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Len Melisurgo may be reached at


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