(Updates storm position, adds president’s comments)
By Jessica Resnick-Ault and Erwin Seba
Aug 28 (Reuters) – Hurricane Ida on Saturday intensified over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, prompting tens of thousands to flee coastal areas, while President Joe Biden pledged aid to help states quickly recover once the storm has passed.
Forecasters said Ida could make a U.S. landfall on Sunday as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, generating winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), heavy downpours and a tidal surge that could plunge much of the Louisiana shoreline under several feet of water.
On Saturday afternoon Ida was about 290 miles (470 km) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, packing top winds of 100 miles per hour (155 kph) and aiming for the Louisiana coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
“We’re concerned about explosive development shortly before it makes landfall,” said Jim Foerster, chief meteorologist at DTN, which provides weather advice to oil and transportation companies.
Flooding from Ida’s storm surge – high water driven by the hurricane’s winds – could reach between 10 and 15 feet (3 and 4.5 meters) around the mouth of the Mississippi River, with lower levels extending east along the adjacent coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama, the NHC said.
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