Residents of Cayman are once again breathing massive sighs of relief having once again dodged the bullet of another raging storm, as the battering force of Hurricane Ida churns across the Gulf of Mexico on a heading for New Orleans.
As cleaning up continues from storm Grace which caused some disruption and Ida all but missing Cayman, the latter is now bearing down today on New Orleans in full Category 4 hurricane, ominously on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which all but obliterated part of that American city.
President Joe Biden has already warned residents to brace for what he described as “a very, very dangerous storm".
Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall in New Orleans this evening even more powerful than Hurricane Katrina in 2005, memories of which still haunt the city’s residents of a storm that has become embedded in American folklore for its devastation and consequential social upheaval.
The US National Hurricane Centre(NHC) has warned of a "life-threatening" storm surge” as Ida hurtles across the Gulf of Mexico on a path towards New Orleans packing winds up to 140 miles an hour.
Governor John Bel Edwards warned the storm could be one of the biggest to hit the state in 150 years and urged residents to flee for safety.
News reports are showing hordes of people and miles of vehicles lining highways and heading for safety away from the onslaught of the storm with vivid memories of Hurricane Katrina and other storms which have battered the area in recent years.
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005 it was a Category 3 storm, but forecasters are predicting that Ida which is reported to be still gaining strength could be a monstrous Category 4 when it impacts the Louisiana coast and New Orleans by this evening potentially causing immense destruction.
Over 1,800 people perished in Hurricane Katrina and damage was in the billions of dollars.
However, due to the extensive infrastructural upgrades which subsequently were carried in the low-lying flood-prone city, it is hoped that the damage from Ida would not be on the scale of Katrina.
Ida which just missed Cayman on its way to becoming a powerful and dangerous hurricane, had earlier battered parts of Cuba and Jamaica.
In a Sunday morning update, the Weather Channel reported that Hurricane Ida has strengthened into a Category 4 just hours ahead of landfall in southeast Louisiana, where it will bring life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and dangerous rainfall flooding.
Ida had winds of 150 mph as of 7 a.m. CDT on Sunday, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane. Maximum sustained winds in Ida increased by 65 mph in the 24 hours ending 7 a.m. CDT, which easily meets the criteria for the rapid intensification of a tropical cyclone.
Bands of heavy rain containing strong wind gusts are spreading into the northern Gulf Coast ahead of Ida's landfall.
Wind gusts over 100 mph have been clocked at elevated weather stations along the coast of southeast Louisiana. Storm surge has pushed water levels about 4 feet above normal at Shell Beach, Louisiana.