Hurricane Ida now has winds of 150 mph and is approaching Category 5 strength, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said in a 6 a.m. update. Category 5 storms have winds of 157 mph or greater.
The storm is forecast to make landfall later Sunday, which also is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“Life-threatening storm surge, potentially catastrophic wind damage and flooding rainfall” will start Sunday morning on the Gulf Coast, forecasters warned.
Storm surge estimates for Hurricane Ida have increased in the latest update. Now, forecasters said, the storm could push up to 16 feet of water from Port Fourchon to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Rain estimates have increased as well, with up to 24 inches now possible in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
As of 6 a.m., Hurricane Ida was about about 75 miles southeast of Grand Isle and about 60 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
It’s moving northwest at 15 mph.
The NOAA Hurricane Hunters found sustained winds have increased to 150 mph with higher gusts as of 6 a.m.
The powerful winds are expected to reach Louisiana’s coast Sunday morning and spread north. As of 6 a.m., a weather station in Southwest Pass reported a sustained wind of 82 mph and a gust to 107 mph.
On the forecast track, the center of Ida will continue moving across the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday morning and will make landfall along the coast of southeastern Louisiana within the hurricane warning area Sunday afternoon or evening.
Ida is then forecast to move inland over portions of Louisiana and western Mississippi on Monday and Monday night.
Rapid weakening is expected after landfall.