Meteorologists are becoming increasingly concerned as Tropical Storm Ida nears the Gulf Coast. By Sunday, many weather experts believe that Ida will upgrade from a tropical storm and graduate to becoming a hurricane.
"[Ida will] probably be the strongest storm of the season thus far,” AccuWeather's senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski told USA Today.
"It could make landfall before the end of the weekend as a hurricane, giving people in its path little time to prepare or evacuate."
Heeding Kottlowski's warning, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has already declared a state of emergency for this weekend. Adding on, GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom has instructed all residents across the state to finalize their emergency plans immediately and be in one location by Saturday evening. Unfortunately, Lousiana is no stranger to these frightening natural events. This weekend, the state will remember the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall.
“The conditions over the next 48 hours will be critical,” GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom said in a prepared statement.
“Right now we know conditions are primed for this system to strengthen. We also know the reality of this impact all too well. That means we all must remain aware of the potential of this severe weather threat, finalize our emergency plans and be ready to adjust those plans due to any changes in the forecast or due to potential weather alerts being issued."
Tropical Storm Ida is also expected to hit portions of Mississippi and Arkansas while potentially traveling as far inland as Tennessee. The "Volunteer State" has not issued a state of emergency order, but it is still in grave danger after experiencing deadly flooding earlier this month.
“Ida certainly has the potential to be very bad,” hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told Elisha Fieldstadt of NBC News.
Ida will likely hit Cuba and the Cayman Islands before making landfall in the United States late Saturday and early Sunday. Those in target areas should refer to local officials for more information regarding storm preparations.