Meteorologist Nick Mikulas
Hurricane Hunter aircraft found that Tropical Depression 9 had strong enough sustained wind to upgrade it to Tropical Storm Ida. Here are the current stats on Ida.
Ida is moving along at a decent pace, and should continue on that general path for the next few days, though the forward speed may gradually slow. The ridge of high pressure building over the Carolinas could cause a slight bend to the west, which would seem insignificant, but could have huge implications for our area. The latest NHC forecast nudged just a hair to the east, but even with a storm passing 50 miles east of Alexandria, we’d still feel significant impacts. As I’ve said many times, don’t focus on that center track line. Focus on the cone. Our entire area is in the cone of uncertainty, so no one should let their guard down.
The aircraft investigating Ida is showing a weakly defined center, but much stronger winds well to the east and northeast. It’s possible we will see a center relocation as thunderstorms increase overnight. That could of course have an impact on the future track of Ida. I should know a lot more by tomorrow morning, and be able to do a parish by parish forecast by tomorrow evening. It does appear that Ida will make a run at category 3 intensity. Intensity is tricky, but you need to be prepared for a category 3 hurricane along the coast, and the potential for hurricane force wind gusts well inland. It also appears that Ida will slow down after landfall, which could bring flooding problems near the center, and to the east.
Remember, don’t focus on the track. Just because you are west of it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. There will be significant impacts 50 miles west of the track. It’s just that the problems extend much further out along the east side. Make sure you have any preparations done by Saturday evening. We could start seeing fringe effects from Ida during the day Sunday. The forecast track error is about 120 miles 3 days from landfall. A 50-100 mile swing to the west means the entire area gets a big dose of Ida. A 50-100 mile shift east means we wouldn’t get much. So it’s a massive difference. Given the pattern, I think slight westward shifts are more likely than eastward shifts, but we shall see. I really think I’ll be able to pin this down with reasonable certainty by tomorrow. But it’s probably time to start prepping things.
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