Hurricane Ida causes chaos from Louisiana to NYC
Hurricane Ida makes Landfall on August 29, 2021 via WeatherNerds.Org Infrared satellite zoom.
Hurricane Ida gave me the feels. In some ways, I felt once again that helpless feeling that I felt when a Category 5 Hurricane Katrina was churning towards New Orleans 16 years ago, to the day. Hurricane Katrina was the first storm that I blogged about for AccuWeather in 2005.
On August 29, 2005, I snapped this visible satellite view of Hurricane Katrina's eye. On August 29, 2021, I did the same for Hurricane Ida.
Back then, we got our news from TV, newspapers, magazines and (to a lesser extent) their websites. There was no YouTube, no Twitter, no Facebook. The first iPhone had just come out. My blog was one of the few online weather news outlets to warn people or help uncover the horrors that followed.
Today, with all the modern conveniences, I have to believe that the improvements in communication have ended up helping Louisiana residents during Ida. After a $14 billion upgrade, the levees held (in the city -- a levee was overtopped in LaPlace, to the south of NOLA, causing severe flooding).
What hasn't changed much, unfortunately, is the rest of the infrastructure. Wind gusts to 90 mph felled a key, aging transmission tower north of New Orleans that was likely rated for higher winds, dumping the power lines into the Mississippi. This knocked out power for New Orleans residents for days, some for nearly a week (so far). As I first reported on AccuWeather.com based on NOAA aerials, Port Fourchon, the nation's biggest oil and gas port was heavily damaged.
Oil tank train cars, containers, and power lines lay jumbled across A.J. Estay Road, blocking the only access to a dozen oil and gas properties at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida August 31, 2021 (NOAA)
Without laws to mandate power backup for cell towers and gas stations, communication was difficult and rescuers were running out of gas. General Russel L. Honoré, the former commander of Joint Task Force for Hurricane Katrina, pointed this out, adding: "You can't sustain [a million customers without power] where there's no drinking water and or toilets flushed." At least 14 people have been killed by Ida in the South.
Now, five days later, over 700,000 are without power in Louisiana, down from 1.3 million at peak and 900,000 two days ago. One saving grace: Ida hit further west than Hurricane Katrina, so the power outages didn't number in the millions in Mississippi and Alabama.
Following Ida's hit on Louisiana, it brought record flooding and tornadoes in the Northeast, killing 51 people and setting meteorological records for rainfall.
Observed rainfall from former Hurricane Ida in the Northeast on September 1. (SPC)