Hurricane Ida
Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Travel Alert August 2021: The Landfall of Hurricane Ida

See which airlines have issued travel waivers for this weather event.

If the gulf coast of the United States between western Louisiana and eastern Alabama is in your travel plans over the next few days or so, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to the third landfall of Hurricane Ida, which occurred at approximately 12:55 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time today, Sunday, August 29, 2021 near Port Fourchon in Louisiana as a dangerously strong Category 4 hurricane.

Travel Alert August 2021: The Landfall of Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Nora
Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Ida — which is currently centered approximately 55 miles south southwest of New Orleans in Louisiana and is moving northwest at 13 miles per hour — are 150 miles per hour, which means that this storm is classified as a major Category 4 hurricane. The storm will weaken rapidly and considerably as it moves inland.

The first landfall of the hurricane already occurred on Friday, August 27, 2021 along the Isle of Youth in Cuba just after the “eye” — or center — of the storm formed, which indicates strengthening; and another landfall occurred over western Cuba shortly after that…

…and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico fueled Hurricane Ida enough to strengthen rapidly to the most powerful Category 4 hurricane possible prior to landfall, as it arguably just missed becoming a Category 5 hurricane, as some reports indicate that maximum sustained winds were as strong as 168 miles per hour. Those reports have yet to be substantiated at the time this article was written.

The eye of Hurricane Ida was unusually wide for such a strong storm, as the eye is typically smaller — but the eye was nonetheless well defined.

The effects of Hurricane Ida — including torrential rainfall, potentially catastrophic wind damage, and a life-threatening storm surge — have been affecting the gulf coast of the United States all morning prior to landfall; and those effects have worsened considerable as landfall occurred. This has caused states of emergency to be officially declared for portions of southern Mississippi, portions of southern Alabama, and for the state of Louisiana by the respective governors of those states; and thousands of people have heeded the warnings as they fled inland from coastal areas.

With landfalling tropical systems along the gulf coast of the United States, the southeast quadrant of the hurricane is the worst because the strong winds are carrying the precipitation in a counter-clockwise motion — meaning that the winds and the rain are coming in from the south directly from the Gulf of Mexico onto coastal areas, which are resulting in more devastation than areas along the northwestern quadrant, where winds are weaker with lesser amounts of precipitation because they had wrapped around the eye of the storm over land. New Orleans is in the southeast quadrant of the storm and is currently experiencing significant effects of the storm as a result.

Cities which are affected by Hurricane Ida include Lafayette, Mobile, New Orleans, Bay Saint Louis, and Baton Rouge.

After passing through central Tennessee, the remnants of Hurricane Ida will adversely affect much of the states of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia — basically eventually following a similar track as the remnants of Hurricane Fred — with the center of the track projected to pass over the District of Columbia as early as the evening of Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The city of New York will then be affected by the remnants as early as the morning of Thursday, September 2, 2021 — as well as cities such as Philadelphia, Newark, Hartford, and Boston. Travel alerts may not be officially issued by airlines for these areas; but torrential rains and occasional wind gusts — with a possibility of an isolated tornado — may delay flights and affect travel on highways.

Official Warnings and Watches

The following official warnings and watches were issued by the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States:

  • A hurricane warning is currently in effect for Louisiana from Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Pearl River, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and the greater metropolitan area of New Orleans.
  • A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for Louisiana from Cameron to the west of Intracoastal City — as well as from the mouth of the Pearl River to the border which Alabama and Florida share.
  • A storm surge warning is currently in effect in Louisiana from Intracoastal City to the border which Alabama and Florida share — as well as Vermilion Bay, Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Mobile Bay.

Tides could reach levels as high as 15 feet between Morgan City in Louisiana to Ocean Springs in Mississippi; and between two feet and seven feet along other areas of the gulf coast from western Louisiana to eastern Alabama.

Total rainfall accumulations of between eight inches and 16 inches — with isolated maximum totals of up to 20 inches — are possible from southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi and Alabama through Monday morning. Hurricane Ida is forecast to turn northeast as it moves inland later Monday with rainfall totals of between four inches and eight inches possible across much of the state of Mississippi, which is likely to result in considerable flash flooding, urban flooding, small stream flooding, and river flooding.

Once further inland, the remnants of Hurricane Ida are expected to flood many areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, northern Alabama, and Tennessee, which had experienced devastating floods earlier this month which were responsible for the deaths of at least 22 people — and this was after the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred poured precipitation on the eastern third of the state.

Additionally, tornadoes will be possible today through tomorrow, Monday, August 30, 2021 across eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, central and southern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.

The music plays on in New Orleans regardless.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to or from the gulf coast of the United States between western Louisiana and eastern Alabama over the next few days or so, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are eight airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • American Airlines has issued travel alerts for twelve cities in five states for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Tuesday, August 31, 2021; and Saturday, September 4, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued travel alerts for nine cities in three states for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Tuesday, August 31, 2021; and Saturday, September 4, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued travel alerts for 14 cities in four states for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Tuesday, August 31, 2021; and Saturday, September 4, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Southwest Airlines has issued travel alerts for Jackson, New Orleans, and Pensacola for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Tuesday, August 31, 2021; and Tuesday, September 14, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued a travel alert for New Orleans for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Monday, August 30, 2021; and Thursday, September 2, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Frontier Airlines has issued a travel alert for New Orleans for Friday, August 27, 2021 through Wednesday, September 1, 2021; and Friday, September 17, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued a travel alert for New Orleans for Sunday, August 29, 2021 through Monday, August 30, 2021; and Saturday, September 4, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued travel alerts for Gulfport and New Orleans for Saturday, August 28, 2021 through Thursday, September 2, 2021; and Thursday, September 9, 2021 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Final Boarding Call

The landfall of Hurricane Ida occurred exactly 16 years to the day after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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