NEW ORLEANS – Hurricane Ida, the first Atlantic hurricane to target the United States this year, plodded Sunday toward the Gulf Coast with 105 mph winds, bringing the threat of flooding and storm surges.
A hurricane watch extended over more than 200 miles of coastline across southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency.
Authorities said Ida could make landfall as early as Tuesday morning, although it was forecast to weaken by then. Officials and residents kept a close eye on the Category 2 hurricane as it approached, though there were no plans for evacuations.
Sunday evening, Ida was located 400 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest near 14 mph. A forecast from the National Hurricane Center Sunday evening showed Ida brushing near Louisiana and Mississippi, then making landfall near Alabama before continuing across north Florida.
Many took the forecast in stride.
“Even though we’re telling everybody to be prepared, my gut tells me it probably won’t be that bad,” said Steve Arndt, of Bay Point Marina Co. in Panama City, Fla.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal had declared a state of emergency as a precaution, and the National Guard was on high alert if assistance was needed. New Orleans wasn’t included in the hurricane watch. But officials were encouraging residents to prepare for potential gusts of 60 mph by removing any tree limbs that could damage homes.
Nearly 1,400 Louisiana residents are still living in federally issued trailers and mobile homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita; nearly 360 units remained in Mississippi.
Earlier Sunday, Ida’s wind and rain whipped palm trees in the Mexican resort city of Cancun.