TROPICAL Storm Ida intensified as it swirled toward a strike on Cuba on Friday, showing hallmarks of a rare, rapidly intensifying storm that could hammer Louisiana as a major hurricane.
“The forecast track has it headed straight towards New Orleans. Not good,” said NOAA’s Jim Kossin, a climate and hurricane scientist.
Tropical Storm Ida poses a relatively low threat to tobacco-rich western Cuba, where forecasters predicted a glancing blow on Friday.
The real danger begins over the Gulf, where forecasts were aligned in predicting Ida will strengthen very quickly into a major hurricane before landfall in the area of the Mississippi River delta late Sunday or early Monday, experts said.
“Ida certainly has the potential to be very bad,” said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
“It will be moving quickly, so the trek across the Gulf from Cuba to Louisiana will only take 1.5 days.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Nora is also gaining strength and could hit the southwest coast of Mexico early next week.
Read our Tropical Storm Ida live blog for the latest news and updates…