BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – On August 26 Tropical Depression Ida formed southwest of Jamaica. Starting its path that would impact millions across the United States. Within a day of formation, Ida was gathering strength. On August 27th Ida had reached hurricane strength with 70 miles per hour winds before making its first landfall in Cuba. On August 28th Hurricane Ida moved into the Gulf of Mexico. The reorganization of Ida’s eye and the warm temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico lead to a rapid increase in strength over the next 24 hours.
During the first 12 hours Hurricane Ida’s winds increased from 80 miles per hour to 103 miles per hour. At the end of the 24 hours, Hurricane Ida was just southwest of the Mouth of the Mississippi River. Winds were up to 150 miles per hour making Hurricane Ida a major hurricane with the status of Category 4. On August 29th at 11:55 a.m. Hurricane Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon.
In 2020 Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of August 1856, were the only other storms to reach category 4 on record to make landfall in Louisiana west of the Mouth of the Mississippi River.
Shortly after landfall, Ida turned north-northwestward. This brought the eye across southeastern Louisiana between Houma and New Orleans. As Ida continued this path, early on 30 August the center was just west of LaPlace and then between Baton Rouge and Hammond. The cyclone’s intensity steadily decreased as it moved inland, and it weakened to a tropical storm before the center moved into southwestern Mississippi.
Hurricane conditions occurred over much of the remainder of southeastern Louisiana south and east of Baton Rouge. Hurricane conditions occurred as far north as the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Ida produced a devastating storm surge that penetrated well inland from the immediate coastline across portions of southeastern Louisiana, including on both the east and west banks of the Mississippi River and bordering portions of Lake Pontchartrain. Storm surge levels were high enough in some locations to overtop local levee systems.
Ida directly caused six deaths as a tropical cyclone, with four in Louisiana and two in Mississippi. One death in Louisiana was a drowning during a storm surge in Lafitte in Jefferson Parish, while a second was a drowning when a car was driven into freshwater flooding in New Orleans. The two other deaths in Louisiana were due to high winds that damaged buildings in Ascension and St. James Parishes.
After Ida passed 28 deaths occurred along the Gulf coast, including 26 in Louisiana and 2 in Alabama. 13 deaths were related to heat exhaustion due to power outages. With other deaths from medical issues to home repair.
Ida’s winds, rains, storm surges, and tornadoes caused a total of $75 billion in damages in the United States. Current estimates are that Ida’s devasting winds and storm surge caused about $55 billion of damage in Louisiana.