'This will be a life-altering storm,' National Weather Service meteorologist says of Hurricane Ida

Greg Hilburn
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Crews work to clean debris from Coulee Mine behind Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church ahead of Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida could slam into Louisiana with catastrophic force exceeding that of historic Hurricane Laura last year, the National Weather Service's chief New Orleans meteorologist said Friday.

Meteorologist Benjamin Schott joined Gov. John Bel Edwards at his press conference, where he forecast a Category 4 landfall somewhere near Terrebonne and St. Mary parishes with possible sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts of 170 mph.

"Hurricane Ida has developed way ahead of schedule," Schott said. "This will be life altering storm for some people."

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Edwards said he expects much of the state to lose power from where Hurricane Ida makes landfall and as far as it tracks north through the state.

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"The rapid intensification is happening to a greater degree that was expected," Edwards said. "The situation is changing by the hour. We now believe there's a strong liklihood this will be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall.

"This is a sobering forecast," Edwards said.

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The governor said he has activated the entire Louisiana National Guard, including about 5,000 soldiers.

He said the National Guard is already positioning high water vehicles for search and rescue.

Edwards said 5,000 electricity lineman are also positioned to fan out following the storm with another 12,000 available to enter the state.

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The governor said he talked Friday afternoon to President Biden, who issued a pre-landfall federal emergency declaration.

"By nightfall (Saturday) you need to be where you intend to ride out the storm," Edwards said.

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