Ida made its first landfall in the United States around 11:40 UTC (05:40 local time) earlier today on Dauphin Island, Alabama, as a tropical storm packing sustained winds of around 45 mph (75 kmph), according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm then made a second landfall in mainland Alabama just to the northwest of Bon Secour around 13:00 UTC (07:00 local time). Ida weakened prior to making landfall and this decline in strength has continued as it tracks inland in an easterly direction into northern Florida. At landfall, the NHC said tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the centre of the storm. Forecasters said the towns and cities of New Orleans, Mobile and Pensacola were all hit by tropical storm-force winds.
All tropical storm warnings have been discontinued after Ida weakened to a tropical depression after coming ashore. The NHC said 3 to 6 inches (75 to 150 millimeters) of rain could fall in the region over the next 36 hours, with up to 8 inches (200 millimeters) possible in some areas. Forecasters said the rain is expected to be heaviest in the central and eastern Gulf coast, spreading to the northeast into the southeastern United States and the southern mid-Atlantic states.
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Ida moved through northern parts of the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm on a path that tracked to the east of the biggest concentration of platforms in the Gulf. However, the storm prompted some companies to shut down offshore platforms and evacuate personnel. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) said Ida shut 29.6 percent of offshore oil production and 27.5 percent of natural gas output as it moved through the Gulf on November 9. Energy companies said they were waiting for the storm to make landfall before returning workers to restart production. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only US terminal capable of handling the largest tankers, stopped unloading ships due to stormy seas. The Independence Hub, a major offshore natural gas processing facility, was also closed. However, due to Ida weakening to a tropical storm as it moved through northern parts of the Gulf, reports said any damage and disruption was likely to be minor and temporary. There have been no reports of onshore refineries curtailing operations due to the storm.
Although some households on the US mainland lost power as Ida brought strong winds, heavy rainfall and flooding to parts of the Gulf coast, there have been no reports of significant damage. Officials said there have been no reports of storm surge breaching defences that protect beachfront hotels and condominium buildings along the Alabama coast.
As the storm approached the Gulf coast, the governors of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana declared states of emergency. Some 2.8 million residents in the four states could feel the storm’s effects, the US Census Bureau said. In Mobile, Alabama Governor Bob Riley warned residents to be on guard after declaring a state of emergency for the state. The Coast Guard closed the Port of Mobile, halting traffic on Mobile Bay, and authorities closed schools and government offices in coastal counties, telling residents of flood-prone areas and mobile homes to evacuate. An overnight curfew was also issued for part of the Alabama coast.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal warned of potential flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, as he declared a state of emergency. Governor Jindal said authorities do not expect New Orleans to receive more water than the city can handle, but voluntary evacuations were issued in some coastal parishes and schools were closed. Officials in the state were also encouraging residents to prepare for strong wind gusts by removing any tree limbs that could damage their homes and securing loose items. In Florida, residents of Pensacola Beach, nearby Perdido Key and other low-lying coastal areas have been encouraged to leave their homes, and schools have been closed in the area. Elsewhere, wind advisories and flood watches were posted as far inland as northern Alabama and Georgia, including the area around Atlanta
Earlier, Ida made landfall in Nicaragua on November 5, triggering floods that destroyed around 500 homes and forced more than 13,000 people into shelters, according to reports. Ida also swept past the Mexican resort of Cancun on November 8 as it moved through the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba, but little damage was reported in the city. Separately, severe flooding killed around 135 people in El Salvador but the NHC said a low pressure system out of the Pacific, and not Hurricane Ida, triggered the disaster.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse, BBC News, CNN News
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