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Gulf Coast braces for Hurricane Ida, no time for New Orleans to evacuate

Christian Fernsby |
After slamming Cuba twice in fewer than 24 hours, Hurricane Ida is expected to pummel Louisiana on Sunday, urging evacuations in New Orleans and the surrounding coastal region.

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On Saturday morning, Ida was moving away from Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to rapidly intensify over the next 24 to 36 hours prior to landfall across the Louisiana coast on Sunday afternoon or evening.

Ida is anticipated to reach at least Category 4 strength before landfall, the National Hurricane Center said, maintaining its earlier forecast.

"Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday," National Hurricane Center forecasters said Saturday morning. At 5 a.m. ET, the storm sustained winds of 80 mph.

Officials implored people to evacuate, with some issuing mandatory orders to do so.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a mandatory evacuation of all city areas that are outside its flood protection system, and urged other residents to evacuate voluntarily or shelter in place.

"The city cannot issue a mandatory evacuation because we don't have the time," Cantrell said Friday at a news conference, speaking about areas inside the levee system. "We do not want to have people on the road, and therefore, in greater danger because of the lack of time."

A dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River on Sunday as Ida makes landfall, the NHC said.

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