Hurricane Ida Strengthens into Category 4 as Thousands Flee in Louisiana

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Tens of thousands of people are fleeing the US state of Louisiana as Hurricane Ida closes in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Ida is now a category four hurricane, one below the highest level, with up to 140mph (225km/h) sustained winds.

It is expected to make landfall on Sunday evening, bringing a "life-threatening" storm surge. It could be stronger than Hurricane Katrina, which devastated much of New Orleans in 2005.
Traffic jams clogged motorways as residents heeded orders to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center said "potentially catastrophic wind damage and flooding rainfall will impact portions of the northern Gulf coast beginning later this morning" (Sunday).
Governor John Bel Edwards warned the storm could be one of the biggest to hit the state in 150 years.

"Your window of time is closing," he warned residents on Saturday.
"By the time you go to bed tonight you need to be where you intend to ride the storm out and you need to be as prepared as you can be, because weather will start to deteriorate very quickly tomorrow."

The governor of neighbouring Mississippi has declared a state of emergency.
President Joe Biden said Ida was "turning into a very, very dangerous storm" and the federal government was ready to provide help.
 

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Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, shortly before 1 p.m. ET Sunday as an extremely dangerous, Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Ida, striking on the 16th anniversary of the historically devastating Hurricane Katrina, tied as the state's most powerful storm ever with Laura from last year and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.

Landfall is when the eye is halfway over the coast. Extreme winds and surge will accompany landfall over the next several hours.
 

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Video compilation of hurricane Ida devastating winds and deluge of rain.


Ida made landfall Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane and has already contributed to four deaths. Hundreds of people have been rescued, but search-and-rescue crews haven't been able to access some of the hardest-hit areas, so it's not yet clear how many residents might be still be trapped by flooding or debris.

Officials say electricity might not be restored to some areas for a month. Millions of customers in Louisiana and Mississippi are currently without power.
 
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