MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Ida has formed in the Caribbean and forecasters say it's aimed at the U.S. Gulf Coast, prompting Louisiana's governor to declare a state of emergency and forecasters to announce a hurricane watch for New Orleans.
The governor says all the state's coastline is in the storm's forecast cone and says it could arrive as a major hurricane.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ida is expected to cross western Cuba as a tropical storm starting Friday afternoon and then strengthen, reaching the Gulf Coast by Sunday.
“Tropical storm conditions are likely in portions of the Cayman Islands tonight and western Cuba Friday and Friday night, with dangerous storm surge possible in portions of western Cuba, including the Isle of Youth, in areas of onshore flow,” wrote the NHC in an advisory Thursday.
The NHC says the storm system is also expected to produce life-threatening heavy rains, flash flooding, and mudslides across Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, western Cuba, and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula.
It says there's an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging hurricane-force winds.
The National Weather Service in Miami said Thursday that Tropical Storm Ida had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
“This system is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast at or near major hurricane intensity on Sunday, although the forecast uncertainty is larger than usual since the system is just forming,” wrote the NHC.
Officials say there is a risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday along the northern Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to the upper Texas coast, with the greatest risk along the coast of Louisiana.
Those in these areas should closely monitor the progress of this system and ensure they have their hurricane plans in place, the NHC warns.