Aug. 26 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Ida formed Thursday afternoon just west of Jamaica, bringing heavy rains and storm surges to the Caribbean before heading into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthening, forecasters said.
In its 11 p.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm was located 65 miles southeast of Grand Cayman and 365 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving northwest at 12 mph.
A hurricane watch was in effect for Cameron, La., eastward to the Mississippi/Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and metropolitan New Orleans.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the Cayman Islands, and the Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque, Havana, Artemisa, Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Alabama/Florida border and a storm surge watch was in effect for Sabine Pass to the Alabama/Florida border as well as Vermillion Bay, Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Mobile Bay.
Ida was expected to strengthen as it heads northwesterly into the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a hurricane by Saturday afternoon. It’s forecast to make landfall along the Louisiana or Mississippi coasts a day later before turning toward the northeast.
“The system is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast at or near major hurricane intensity on Sunday, where there is an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday, especially along the coast of Louisiana,” the NHC said.
Ida is the ninth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season following Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace and Henri.