By Adam Ganucheau
Ida, the historic storm that slammed much of Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, crossed into southwestern Mississippi as a tropical storm early Monday morning, threatening to dump heavy rains and produce widespread wind damage across the Magnolia State.
More than 100,000 Mississippians were without power Monday at 5 a.m. after the storm affected south Mississippi and Louisiana, and widespread power outages were expected as the center of the storm — where the highest winds and heaviest rains are located — takes aim for central and north Mississippi.
“Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will continue to spread inland near the track of Ida’s center into southwestern Mississippi through this morning and early afternoon. These winds will likely lead to widespread tree damage and power outages,” a National Weather Service 4 a.m. update read. “As Ida moves inland, considerable flooding impacts as possible… .” https://twitter.com/MSEMA/status/1432281760927305735
“Entergy Mississippi will be expecting significant damage to our system in South MS, the Jackson Metropolitan areas as well as threatening weather into North MS,” said Haley Fisackerly, the president and CEO of Entergy Mississippi.
Tropical storm-force winds were already being reported across much of central Mississippi by Monday at 5 a.m., and conditions are expected to deteriorate into the day. The storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana, is expected to move over central Mississippi on Monday morning and north Mississippi on Monday evening.
LATEST ON IDA: Click here to follow National Weather Service updates.
The storm has already left catastrophic damage in Louisiana and south Mississippi. Many homes and businesses in south Louisiana were completely destroyed or greatly damaged. At least one death has been reported: in Prairieville, Louisiana, about 30 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, where a person died after a tree fell on a home.
More than 1 million Louisiana residents were without power by early Monday morning. This includes most residents in the city of New Orleans, which experienced hurricane-force winds and a failure of its electrical grid.
The worst of the hurricane also affected the Mississippi Gulf Coast and other south Mississippi counties on Sunday and early Monday. Storm surge and flash flooding overtopped many roads in Hancock and Harrison counties — including U.S. Highway 90 — and there were several reports of severe wind damage to structures along the Mississippi Coast.
On Sunday evening, the National Weather Service issued an alert for low-lying areas of Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Diamondhead: “Plan for extreme life-threatening storm surge flooding greater than 9 feet above ground.”
Gov. Tate Reeves on Saturday issued a state of emergency before Ida made landfall. The prospects of the storm were made worse by most Mississippi hospitals already being full with COVID-19 patients.
“We are better prepared today than we were for Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, but this time we also are dealing with a major pandemic,” said Jim Craig, director of health protection with the Mississippi State Department of Health. Craig urged people going to shelters and to other places to continue to wear masks and take other precautions to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Shelter locations can be found at the MSEMA.org.
For Ida updates on the Mississippi Gulf Coast: Follow the Sun Herald.