Residents of the U.S. Gulf coast thought they were getting a break this hurricane season until Ida showed up. Today, November 9, Ida is a hurricane and is headed for a landfall in the western Florida Panhandle after midnight. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-12 captured a look at Ida’s extensive clouds this morning, and they stretch from Florida’s west coast to eastern Texas. At 8:30 a.m. ET (7:30 CT), showers and thunderstorms had already spread into eastern Texas, Louisiana, southern Mississippi and Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Ida’s cloud cover stretches a great distance and her winds also reach out far. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 200 miles from the center. That means that tropical storm-force winds cover an area of 400 miles from one end of the storm to the other. That’s the distance from Boston, Massachusetts to Baltimore, Maryland!
The GOES-12 satellite provides many updates throughout the day, and is helping forecasters identify the extent and location of Ida on its track. GOES-12 is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA’s GOES Project that creates GOES imagery is located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
The National Hurricane Center has already posted warnings and watches for Gulf coast residents. A hurricane warning remains in effect for the northern gulf coast from Pascagoula, Mississippi eastward to Indian Pass, Florida. A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch remain in effect for the northern gulf coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana eastward to west of Pascagoula, Mississippi including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the northern gulf coast from east of Indian Pass, Florida to Aucilla River, Florida. Hurricane Warnings mean that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours in the warning area.
This morning at 7 a.m. ET (6 a.m. CT), Ida’s maximum sustained winds were near 80 mph, making her a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. She may hang on to hurricane strength when she makes landfall tonight after midnight. Although her center was 235 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, near 25.8 North and 88.2 West, her cloud cover stretches over about one-third of the Gulf of Mexico! Ida’s center is also about 330 miles south-southwest of Pensacola, Florida. Ida is moving north-northwest near 16 mph, and is expected to turn north, then northeast. Her minimum central pressure was 993 millibars this morning.
NASA’s Aqua satellite’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captured an infrared image of Ida’s extensive cloud cover and took the temperature of Ida’s thunderstorm tops on November 8. Ida showed strong convective activity and high cold thunderstorms (in purple) that were as cold as -63F. Those high thunderstorms are indicative of heavy rainfall, and rainfall is going to be a major issue with Ida, and storm surge is expected between 4 and 6 feet above ground level along the coast. Large and destructive waves will accompany the storm surge.
The rainfall is expected between 3 and 6 inches with isolated amounts to 8 inches through Tuesday. Like Ida’s winds, that rainfall forecast covers a large area from the Central and eastern Gulf Coast northward into the eastern portions of the Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachian Mountains. As Ida moves inland and toward the northeast, heavy rainfall is forecast to move into Georgia, too. The National Weather Service already issued a flash flood watch for November 10 and 11 for north and central Georgia. Meteorologists are expecting 2-4 inches of rain there.
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida are feeling the effects of Ida now. The National Weather Service in Pensacola, Florida has posted a Hurricane Wind Warning, Hurricane Warning, Flash Flood Watch and Coastal Flood Watch. Live National Weather Service Radar from Pensacola, Fla. can be found at: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=MOB&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes