Weather: that’s what it’s like to be a Louisiana meteorologist and cover Ida


Louisiana is my home.

My family, close friends, and a lifetime of memories flood my mind every time this happens. Covering storms is serious business for me. I hope to communicate clearly, with the appropriate urgency the storm warrants, and no matter where the storm hits, I am constantly thinking of the families affected.

But when the storm hits your family, your childhood friends, the house in New Orleans where I visited my growing grandmother, it grips my heart even more.

As soon as I leave the air, I respond to text messages from friends asking me what to do. I face my best friend from college who is worried that a particular tree is falling on her house.

But I tell them the exact same thing I tell viewers. There is no top-secret insider baseball when it comes to hurricanes.

There is a forecast, a million possibilities and staying safe is the top priority.

On the ground in Houma

As many of you who have followed us this weekend know, my colleague Derek Van Dam experienced it this weekend. He rode Ida in the town of Houma, where the majority of the inhabitants were evacuated. He was their eyes on the ground.

People watching from hotel rooms miles away got to see what their city was going through – see what they would return to.

“Almost every building in downtown Houma has suffered some sort of damage,” CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam texted me from the field.

“The lack of electricity and cellular networks complicates the problem for residents. It’s devastating to see people trying to get in touch with family or friends and not succeeding. They just want to know that everyone is okay.

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Derek goes on to tell me that the storm wreaked havoc on him and his crew. They know this is important work, being the eyes on the ground for so many residents who are being evacuated. “The sun is out and it is heating up quickly. It will be a difficult recovery effort with no options to cool off.”

The reality is that the power could be cut for weeks. Trying to clean up and rebuild in the scorching Louisiana sun will only pose more challenges in the days to come.

Here is some of the latest information from the field in other parts of Louisiana.

Human-caused climate change made Ida worse

Ida is another real-life example of how climate change exacerbates the impacts of hurricanes. “Fed by warmer-than-normal Gulf of Mexico waters, Ida has two consecutive years the state dealt with high-end 150 mph hurricanes,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

This is something no state has ever experienced before.

“Scientists have noted several ways in which hurricanes change, and their impacts worsen, thanks to man-made climate change. Hurricane Ida ticks all the boxes,” Miller said.

  • Stronger: More and more storms are reaching force majeure (category 3-5).
  • Slow down: Storms move more slowly, especially after making landfall.
  • More humid: Storms produce more precipitation and extreme precipitation rates.
  • Higher seas = higher swell: Rising sea levels have caused water levels to rise along the coast, making storm surges even higher.

The winds with Hurricane Ida were remarkable

Remarkable in the sense that it was so wild to see winds as strong as they have been for so long. Ida remained a major storm for NINE hours after making landfall.

Most of the time, these anemometers break before we can get readings above 130-140 mph.

Yesterday, a ship in Port Fourchon recorded a wind speed of 149 mph, with a gust of 172 mph.

Other wind reports we received:

  • New Orleans International Airport: 90 mph gust
  • Raceland, LA: 99 mph gust
  • Galliano, LA: 98 mph gust
  • near Dulac, LA: wind 89 mph, gusting 138 mph

Where will Ida go from here?

Ida is always on the move and still has the potential to cause major damage and flooding as it continues its journey north. Ida is expected to weaken into a tropical depression today, and cross Tennessee tomorrow and off the mid-Atlantic coast by Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center expects Ida to step up today.

Ida is still carrying winds of 45 mph, with higher gusts, so as the storm heads north there will be a strong possibility of power outages. At the same time, trees and power lines will be cut down across much of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Ida will likely produce two to four inches of rain over much of the Tennessee River Valley and the mid-Atlantic, with isolated amounts of up to six inches.

Flash floods will be the main threat with Ida, as 50 million people are currently under flash flood watch extending from the Gulf Coast to the northeast.

Tornadoes are also possible today for the Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. As the storm moves north, the threat of tornadoes will also move north.

Central Tennessee is emerging from the devastation caused by recent flooding. Now he sits right in Ida’s sights

NHC’s forecast for Hurricane Ida was correct, CNN analysis shows

Our team of meteorologists analyzed all official forecasts for Hurricane Ida from the National Hurricane Center. Our results show that the centre’s forecast for the storm was significantly better than average.

All forecasts showed the storm was making landfall from south-central to southeast Louisiana from the start.

Forecast for the storm began Thursday morning, more than 72 hours before the storm’s eventual arrival.

A total of 14 forecast tracks were issued by the NHC between Thursday and Sunday morning. All of them showed a landing within 50 miles of the actual landing site in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

The first runway issued showed the greatest distance error, showing a landing approximately 45 miles west of Port Fourchon.

The NHC’s 72-hour average track error is 96 miles, meaning the forecast showed less than half the average error for a three-day tropical cyclone forecast.

The 48-hour forecast was also nearly half the average error, showing a landing about 35 miles from Port Fourchon (the average 48-hour error is 65 miles).


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