Tropical weather update: Ida weakens to a depression, heads east to Fla

The 4 a.m. EST updated forecast track of Tropical Storm Ida from the National Hurricane Center.

The 4 a.m. EST updated forecast track of Tropical Storm Ida from the National Hurricane Center.

Video from NBC-2

— .

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Tropical Storm Ida sloshed ashore with rain and gusty winds Tuesday before weakening to a depression, leaving weather-hardened Gulf Coast residents largely unscathed.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's center first touched land on Dauphin Island before heading across Mobile Bay toward the Alabama mainland.

Top sustained winds dropped to near 35 mph (55 mph) as Ida weakened and moved northeast at about 9 mph (15 kph). It was expected to turn east and follow the Florida Panhandle before being absorbed by a front Wednesday.

Tropical storm warnings were discontinued across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Forecasters said the storm had already spread most of its heavy rain onshore along the Gulf Coast ahead of Ida's center.

"The only thing it did to us is knock out the power," resident Jimmy Wentworth said as he sipped coffee outside the Ship&Shore convenience store. "Our houses and people are fine. I'm fine."

The storm had shut down nearly a third of oil and natural gas production in the Gulf as companies moved workers ahead of Ida. Still, demand was so low due to the economic downturn that energy prices barely budged Tuesday. Oil companies were expected to fly workers back out to platforms relatively quickly to restart operations.

Scattered power outages were reported, but water that filled parking lots and roadsides in coastal Alabama late Monday was gone by daybreak Tuesday. The rain had stopped, but the winds were still brisk, whipping palm fronds and whistling through doors. On the beach, dry sand blew like snow in the glow of lights.

The storm left some debris and standing water in the streets on Dauphin Island but did not do much other damage.

Ankle-deep water pooled on roads in the island's lower-lying west end, where many residents had left their homes before Ida hit. A police officer standing guard said the extent of the damage was unknown.

Atlanta resident Mike White drove down Monday to see the storm and was watching breakers crash at Gulf Shores early Tuesday. The sky was clear overhead but there were clouds all around.

"This is spectacular," White said. "It's almost like we are in the eyewall."

In Orange Beach, east of Mobile Bay near the Florida state line, hotel desk clerk Frank Worley said Ida came ashore more like a thunderstorm than a hurricane.

"It was a lot of waves and wind, but it wasn't very harsh," he said. "There's a few people driving up and down the roads, but no one on the beach."

Paula Tillman, a spokeswoman for the emergency operations agency in Baldwin County on the east side of Mobile Bay, said there were no reports of damage on the Alabama coast.

"So far, so good," she said.

The sun was out in Mississippi's easternmost coastal county, where authorities said the storm was pretty much over and water was already receding from about two dozen local roads that had flooded.

Patrick Keene, 71, and his wife, Kathie, live in a doublewide trailer in the shadow of the beach front home in Pascagoula, Miss., that they are rebuilding four years after Hurricane Katrina.

While his wife retreated to their son's home across the state Monday night, Keene and his dog rode out the storm in the trailer.

"We get summer squalls frequently that are as bad as this one," he said.

Few people had evacuated or sought refuge along Alabama's coast ahead of the former hurricane that once had potent winds over 100 mph. Officials said fewer than 70 people were in shelters that opened in Mobile and Baldwin counties, with a population of 565,000.

Ida started moving across the Gulf as the third hurricane of this year's quiet Atlantic tropical season, which ends Dec. 1.

Rain and some flooding were the biggest threats. Forecasters said up to 8 inches could fall in some areas, with most of the coast getting between 3 and 6 inches.

Earlier in the week, a low-pressure system that the hurricane may have played a role in attracting had triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people. Near New Orleans, a 70-year-old man was feared drowned when trying to help two fishermen whose boat had broken down in the Mississippi River on Monday, said Maj. John Marie, a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's spokesman.

In Florida, Pensacola Beach appeared largely undamaged Tuesday morning, with the main road leading across it open and clear of water and sand.

Ronnie Powell, headed to his construction job on the beach, wasn't impressed with Ida.

"We've had thunderstorms worse than that," he said.

___

Reeves reported from Gulf Shores, Ala. Associated Press Writers Melissa Nelson and Bill Kaczor in Pensacola and Mike Kunzelman in Pascagoula, Miss., contributed to this report.

POSTED EARLIER

MIAMI — Forecasters say Ida has weakened to a tropical depression and is heading east toward the Florida Panhandle with winds near 35 mph (55 kph).

Ida was a tropical storm with winds near 45 mph (75 kph) when it came ashore near Mobile Bay in southern Alabama on Monday morning.

The tropical depression is moving northeast about 9 mph (15 kph) and is expected to continue in that direction until being absorbed by a front on Wednesday.

Forecasters say most of the heavy rain is over and tropical storm warnings have been discontinued.

The storm had shut down nearly a third of oil and natural gas production in Gulf as oil companies evacuated workers ahead of Ida. But demand for energy is so low due to the economic downturn, energy prices have barely budged.

POSTED EARLIER

Tropical Storm Ida blew ashore with rain and gusty but weakening winds before dawn Tuesday as weather-hardened Gulf Coast residents rode out the rare late-season storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's center first touched land on Dauphin Island and was headed across Mobile Bay for the Alabama mainland, with top sustained winds slowing to about 45 mph (75 kph). Ida was moving northeast about 9 mph (15 kph) and expected to turn eastward to follow the Florida Panhandle.

Forecasters said the storm had already spread most of its heavy rain onshore along the Gulf Coast ahead of Ida's center. Tropical storm warnings were in effect across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.

The storm left some debris and standing water in the streets on Dauphin Island, but residents said they were unscathed aside from power outages.

"The only thing it did to us is knock out the power. Our houses and people are fine. I'm fine," resident Jimmy Wentworth said as he sipped coffee outside the Ship&Shore convenience store.

Atlanta resident Mike White drove down Monday to see the storm and was watching breakers crash on the shore of Mobile Bay early Tuesday. The sky was clear overhead but there were clouds all around.

"This is spectacular. It's almost like we are in the eyewall," White said.

In Orange Beach, east of Mobile Bay near the Florida state line, hotel desk clerk Frank Worley said Ida was more like a thunderstorm than a hurricane as it slopped ashore overnight.

"It was a lot of waves and wind, but it wasn't very harsh," he said. "There's a few people driving up and down the roads, but no one on the beach."

There were reports of scattered power outages, but water that filled parking lots and roadsides late Monday was gone by daybreak Tuesday. The rain had stopped, but the winds are still brisk, whipping palm fronds and whistling through doors. On the beach, dry sand blew like snow in the glow of lights.

The storm surge wasn't enough to breach sand berms along the Alabama coast guarding beachfront hotels and condominium buildings.

Paula Tillman, a spokeswoman for the emergency operations agency in Baldwin County on the east side of Mobile Bay, said there were no reports of damage on the Alabama coast.

"So far, so good," she said.

In Mississippi's easternmost coastal county, authorities said the storm was pretty much over and water was already receding from about two dozen local roads that had flooded. "We fared well," said Jackson County Emergency Operations Director Donald Langham, who added there were no reports of homes damaged.

The wind howled all night in Pensacola Beach, Fla., but unlike in some past storms the main beachfront road was not flooded and power remained on.

Few people had evacuated or sought refuge along Alabama's coast ahead of the former hurricane that once had potent winds over 100 mph. Officials said fewer than 70 people were in shelters that opened in Mobile and Baldwin counties, with a population of 565,000.

Ida started moving across the Gulf as the third hurricane of this year's quiet Atlantic tropical season, which ends Dec. 1.

Rain and some flooding seemed to be the biggest threats. Up to 8 inches could fall in some areas, with most of the coast getting between 3 and 6 inches.

Earlier in the week, a low-pressure system that the hurricane may have played a role in attracting had triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people. Near New Orleans, a 70-year-old man was feared drowned when trying to help two fishermen whose boat had broken down in the Mississippi River on Monday, said Maj. John Marie, a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's spokesman.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday warned people to remain vigilant, saying Tropical Storm Fay was blamed for more than a dozen deaths in his state, Haiti and the Dominican Republic last year. No mandatory evacuations were ordered, but authorities in coastal areas encouraged people near the water or in mobile homes to seek shelter. Many schools closed, and several cruise ships were delayed as the U.S. Coast Guard closed Gulf Coast ports.

Not everyone was complacent. In Navarre Beach, Fla., a few miles east of Pensacola, Roger Dick, 64, boarded up his windows Monday and readied his generator at his home a block from the beach, as he and his wife prepared for their first storm as Florida residents.

"Even though we're rookies, we know there's cause for concern and we've taken precautions, obviously," he said.

POSTED EARLIER

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Squalls ahead of a rare late-season tropical storm that was crawling toward the Gulf Coast blew in heavy rain Monday as residents hunkered down mostly at home to ride out high winds and anticipated flooding.

Ida had slowed and weakened even more as it approached the coast. Winds were about 60 mph (95 kph) and the storm was about 95 miles south-southwest of Mobile, moving only about five miles north in three hours. It was expected to make land early Tuesday before turning east.

Tropical storm warnings were out across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.

In Gulf Shores along the coast, some streets were flooded and the city was under a 10 p.m. curfew. Allen Hastings, general manager of The Original Oyster House, was closing even earlier. During Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the restaurant flooded despite being elevated about 6 feet.

But Hastings, like many along the Gulf Coast, didn't anticipate Ida to be as bad, and said it had been a quiet Atlantic tropical season until now.

"We're not complaining," he said as the restaurant's awnings whipped in the wind. "I don't think it's going to be bad, but we just have to see what tomorrow brings."

A low-pressure system that Hurricane Ida may have played a role in attracting had earlier triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people. Near New Orleans, a 70-year-old man was feared drowned when trying to help two fishermen whose boat had broken down in the Mississippi River, said Maj. John Marie, a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's spokesman. A wave knocked him into the water.

Ida had been the third hurricane of this year's Atlantic season, which ends Dec. 1, but was the only one to threaten the U.S.

Rain will move well inland before the further-weakened storm comes ashore, said U.S. National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist Robbie Berg. Rainfall could be up to 8 inches in some areas, with most of the coast getting between 3 and 6 inches.

Still, few people evacuated or sought refuge along Alabama's coast. Officials said fewer than 70 people were in shelters that opened in Mobile and Baldwin counties, with a total population of 565,000.

The streets were quiet late Monday in downtown Mobile, about 40 miles northwest of Gulf Shores, with many stores and restaurants closing early. Stiff winds with gusts up to 50 mph and sheets of rain made driving hazardous, and many residents opted to stay off the roads, although few said they were leaving town.

POSTED EARLILER:

The 10 p.m. EST updated forecast track of Tropical Storm Ida from the National Hurricane Center.

The 10 p.m. EST updated forecast track of Tropical Storm Ida from the National Hurricane Center.

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 6 p.m. EST Monday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 6 p.m. EST Monday. (NOAA)

Video from NBC-2

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — Emergency officials in Mississippi's easternmost coastal county urged residents of low-lying and flood-prone areas, along with those living in mobile homes, to seek shelter Monday ahead of Tropical Storm Ida.

As Ida weakened, hurricane warnings were dropped along the Gulf Coast on Monday and replaced with tropical storm warnings that stretch from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

The American Red Cross announced that shelters would open in Gautier, Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for areas of Mississippi expected to experience high winds and heavy rainfall. Bryant made the declaration because Gov. Haley Barbour was out of state.

"While Ida appears to be weakening, we urge that residents, particularly in low-lying, flood-prone areas, continue to be vigilant, prudent, and alert to any changes," Barbour said in a statement from Washington, D.C.

The emergency declaration allows for the deployment of some members the Mississippi National Guard and puts the Department of Public Safety and other state agencies on special alert. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has already deployed to the Gulf Coast and is coordinating with local emergency officials.

In Pascagoula, Tim Carpenter, 46, donned a yellow rainslicker as he tied down his 31-foot sailboat in a marina. Carpenter said he has lived on the coast his entire life and had never seen a tropical storm or worse in November.

"A lot of crazy things are happening. The Saints are 8-0 and you've got a storm in November," said Carpenter, who plans to ride out Ida on his boat to make sure the lines hold.

Cathy Huyett, 50, who was out walking her dog as the first bands of Ida drenched Pascagoula, said the insurance agency where she worked was swamped with calls Monday from people wanting flood insurance.

"We can't sell anything now that the storm is in the Gulf. I guess they gamble," she said.

Huyett said she told her boyfriend's sister who called to ask if they were going to evacuate, "It's just going to be a bad rainstorm."

John Lindgren, 48, who lives about a block from the Gulf of Mexico, spent part of Monday afternoon tying up a powerboat and a sailboat as rain and rough seas crashed against a retaining wall. A veteran of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he said he planned to ride out Ida.

"What's happening here is nothing," he said.

T.J. Covacevich, 50, was equally confident at he tied down his 35-foot power boat, the "Sea-Bat," at a Biloxi harbor.

He had moved the boat farther inland for Katrina and for last year's less powerful Hurricane Gustav, but he planned no such move for Ida.

"We can ride it out right here," said Covacevich, sporting a T-shirt that said "Hurricane Hunter."

Also in Biloxi, Mary Rose Leahy, 73, lamented the bad timing of the storm. It was moving toward the coast as workers were preparing to raise the government-issued cottage she moved into after Katrina destroyed her 105-year-old home.

"Murphy's Law," she chuckled, "All this time, finally about to get it done, and now look what happens."

The forecast did not deter gamblers at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi.

Debbie Milella, 54, of Chesapeake, Va., and her husband, Marty, were staying at the casino before heading over to New Orleans. She said when they started on their vacation Saturday, Ida was just entering the Gulf of Mexico, but they were not going to change their plans.

"I knew it was out there but didn't know where it was tracking," she said Monday while taking a break from the slot machines. "I didn't even think it was a concern."

Shelia Butt, 65, of Jonesboro, Ga., said she has endured hurricanes, an earthquake and tornadoes and wasn't worried about a tropical storm.

"If I am in a place like this I feel safe. I'd been watching out the window ... kind of exciting to see the waves come and go," she said.

Emergency Management Director Donald Langham called for a voluntary evacuation of low-lying areas of Jackson County, which borders Alabama. Langham told county leaders that winds from Ida were predicted to reach sustained speeds of up to 65 mph by 7 p.m. and last for eight to 10 hours.

"We're looking at an all-night wind event," Langham told the Board of Supervisors.

He said his greatest concern is high amounts of rain fall, storm surge coming around high tide early Tuesday and street flooding.

"There may be some isolated spots that will get some (flooding). I don't expect it to be anything major," Langham said.

The county has recommended voluntary evacuations for about 150 residents living in flood-prone areas. Despite that, five hours after it opened, only one person had checked into the county's lone shelter. The man, a resident from Alabama, said the shelter was a welcome respite from sleeping in his van.

Doris Moorman, the Red Cross shelter's manager, said she staffed a similar facility last year during Hurricane Gustav and it housed more than 500 people. She said she's concerned that residents weren't taking the threat of Ida as seriously, perhaps letting their Gustav experience lull them into a false sense of security.

"That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be fine this time," she said.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding closed Monday's second and third shifts for workers at its shipyards in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., and Avondale, La. The only exceptions were ship watches, maintenance and security personnel, or anyone notified by a supervisor.

Officials said operations would resume on first shift Tuesday.

Many schools in the three coastal counties of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson let out at midday Monday in anticipation of the storm.

Although Ida was downgraded, emergency officials said the main threats remained heavy rainfall, strong winds and storm surges along the coast and the possibility of some damage.

"One of my main concerns is that people will not take this storm seriously now that it has shown signs of weakening," MEMA Director Mike Womack said in a news release. "Tropical storms are still capable of producing flooding rains and damaging winds and Ida has already proven to be a tough storm to predict."

POSTED EARLIER

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Gulf Coast residents hunkered down at home and in shelters Monday as a rare late-season tropical storm headed their way, bringing with it the potential for high winds, flooding and up to 8 inches of rain in some places.

After a quiet Atlantic storm season, people took the year's first serious threat in stride.

"We can ride it out right here," said T.J. Covacevich, 50, who wore a "Hurricane Hunter" T-shirt as he tied down his powerboat in a Biloxi, Miss., harbor.

Earlier, heavy rain in Ida's wake triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people.

Ida had been the third hurricane of this year's Atlantic season, which ends Dec. 1, but weakened to a tropical storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph (110 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was expected to weaken further before making landfall along the Gulf Coast sometime Monday night or early Tuesday. Rain was already falling in many spots by Monday afternoon.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said officials were relieved Ida had weakened but warned that tropical storms can still be deadly. He pointed to Fay, which was blamed for more than a dozen deaths in Florida, Haiti and the Dominican Republic last year.

"That thing was a tropical storm and we lost a lot of our fellow Floridians, so it's important to stay vigilant," Crist said outside the state emergency operations center. "We need to be careful."

Residents elsewhere in the Southeast braced for heavy rain. In north Georgia, which saw historic flooding in September, forecasters said up to 4 more inches could soak the already-saturated ground as Ida moved across the state.

Two Chevron Corp. workers had to be rescued early Monday from an offshore oil rig about 80 miles south of New Orleans that was in danger of toppling as Ida churned up high seas. They were not hurt.

There were no plans for mandatory evacuations, but authorities in some coastal areas opened shelters and encouraged people near the water or in mobile homes to leave. Many schools closed, and several cruise ships were delayed as the U.S. Coast Guard closed Gulf Coast ports.

Monday afternoon, Ida was located about 60 miles (95 km) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 165 miles (265 km) south-southwest of Pensacola. It was moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).

On Pensacola Beach, Dan Conell took shelter in a pavilion so he could watch the churning Gulf. The Kansas City, Mo., resident, in town for a conference, was seeing the ocean for the first time.

"This is amazing," he said.

Officials planned to close bridges leading to the beach when winds picked up later Monday. Emergency yellow trucks with flashing red lights and red flags drove up and down the mostly deserted beach warning people to stay out of the water.

Florida Panhandle military bases sent nonessential personnel home early and moved aircraft inland. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding told most employees at three shipyards in Mississippi and Louisiana to stay home.

In Robertsdale, Ala., a handful of evacuees showed up at the Baldwin County Coliseum, which had enough room to shelter 3,800 people.

Nancy Box, 68, of Gulf Shores, Ala., said she hoped the storm fizzled but did not want to chance riding it out in her elevated town house on the beach.

"They said the waves were going to be pretty high," she said. "The last time there was a storm, they came over the berm, and I don't swim."

Forecasters predicted Ida's storm surge could raise water levels 3 to 5 feet above normal.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, officials were concerned about hundreds of people still living in federally issued trailers and mobile homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Fred Everhardt, a councilman in southeast Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish, was frustrated driving around and counting camper-trailers he worried would get loose and clog bayous or ram into homes elevated and rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. He said he feared people were not taking the storm as seriously as they should.

But not everyone was complacement. In Navarre Beach, a few miles east of Pensacola, Roger Dick, 64, boarded up his windows and readied his generator as he and his wife prepared for their first storm as Florida residents. They moved a year ago from Ann Arbor, Mich., to a home a block from the beach.

"Neighbors are all pitching in, looking out for each other," he said. "Any storm like this, even though we're rookies, we know there's cause for concern and we've taken precautions, obviously. We're not just gonna throw our hands up and see what happens."

Still others marveled that they were dealing with a storm at all so late in the season.

"It might have been wishful thinking, but we thought hurricane season was over," said Kelby Linn, a real estate agent in Dauphin Island, south of Mobile, Ala. "I have jeans on instead of shorts. That's just wrong, but we've experienced it so much, we know it's nothing to fear."

___

Associated Press writers Bill Kaczor in Pensacola, Suzette Laboy in Miami, Becky Bohrer in New Orleans, Dorie Turner in Atlanta, Jay Reeves in Robertsdale, Ala., Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., Greg Bluestein in Dauphin Island, Ala., and Mike Kunzelman in Biloxi, Miss. contributed to this report.

POSTED EARLIER

Even though center of Ida is nowhere near Southwest Florida, expect breezy and windy conditions in Southwest Florida with gust reaching up to 20 mph.

There will also be isolated downpours through the next couple of days as a result of Ida with most of the rain staying in the Gulf of Mexico.

Schools closed, residents of low-lying areas sought shelter and Florida's governor declared a state of emergency Monday as a late-season tropical storm churned toward the Gulf Coast.

After a quiet storm season, residents took the year's first serious threat 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, director of Bay Point Marina Co. in Panama City, Fla.

Ida started out as the third hurricane of this year's Atlantic season, which ends Dec. 1, but it weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was not expected to strengthen again before making landfall along the Gulf Coast sometime Tuesday morning.

Tropical storm warnings extended more than 200 miles across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Earlier, heavy rain in Ida's wake triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed 124 people. One mudslide covered the town of Verapaz, about 30 miles outside the capital, San Salvador, before dawn Sunday.

In the U.S., there were no immediate plans for mandatory evacuations, but authorities in some coastal areas were opening shelters and encouraging people near the water or in mobile homes to leave.

Monday morning, Ida was located about 185 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 285 miles south-southwest of Pensacola. It was moving north-northwest near 17 mph.

Officials were encouraging residents to prepare for potential gusts of 60 mph by removing tree limbs that could damage their homes and securing or bringing in any trash cans, grills, potted plants or patio furniture.

Residents of Pensacola Beach, Fla., and nearby Perdido Key were encouraged to leave, as were people farther inland who live in mobile homes, and school was canceled in the area Monday and Tuesday. Some schools around New Orleans and in Alabama also canceled classes Monday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency as a precaution Sunday, and the National Guard was on high alert there.

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.

"FEMA stresses that those in temporary (housing) units should not take chances," Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Andrew Thomas said. "Leave the unit behind and evacuate to a permanent structure that will better withstand tropical weather systems and the associated winds."

Mississippi authorities warned residents to be vigilant. They were monitoring conditions to see whether any evacuations of lower-lying areas or school closures would be necessary.

"It is likely we will at least be hit with strong winds and some flooding in our coastal counties," said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Officials "do not want anybody to be caught off guard."

There were no mandatory evacuations in Alabama, but schools were closed in Baldwin County on the eastern side of Mobile Bay, and the county was opening a shelter.

In the Florida Panhandle, residents in Bay County and Panama City were being advised to secure boats and prepare for storm surges that could reach 2-3 feet. Heavy rain, wind and possible flooding was also expected.

"You really don't know until it gets close how you're going to be affected by it," said Brad Monroe, Bay County's deputy chief of emergency services.

Ida was not expected to pack the wallop seen in 2008 when hurricanes Gustav and Ike pelted the Gulf Coast back-to-back.

___

POSTED EARLIER

Hurricane Ida chugged toward the Gulf Coast, and despite warnings extending more than 200 miles across several states, residents seemed to take the first Atlantic hurricane to target the U.S. this season in stride.

Authorities said the hurricane weakened early Monday to a Category 1 storm, with 90 mph winds, and could make landfall as early as Tuesday morning. The storm was expected to weaken further but remain a hurricane as it approaches the coast.

CLICK HERE: Lastest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

CLICK HERE: Latest computer models on the forecast track of Ida.

There were no immediate plans late Sunday for mandatory evacuations.

"Even though we're telling everybody to be prepared, my gut tells me it probably won't be that bad," said Steve Arndt, director of Bay Point Marina Co. in Panama City, Fla.

A hurricane warning extended from Pascagoula, Miss., east to Indian Pass, Fla. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are in effect across other areas of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, including New Orleans. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency as a precaution, and the National Guard was on high alert if assistance was needed.

Early Monday, Ida was located 285 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving north-northwest near 16 mph. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows Ida brushing near Louisiana and Mississippi, then making landfall near Alabama before continuing across north Florida.

Officials were encouraging residents to prepare for potential gusts of 60 mph by removing any tree limbs that could damage their homes and securing or bringing in any trash cans, grills, potted plants or patio furniture.

Residents of Pensacola Beach and nearby Perdido Key were encouraged to leave, and school was canceled in the area Monday and Tuesday. Some schools around New Orleans also canceled classes for Monday.

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.

"FEMA stresses that those in temporary (housing) units should not take chances," Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Andrew Thomas said. "Leave the unit behind and evacuate to a permanent structure that will better withstand tropical weather systems and the associated winds."

Mississippi authorities warned residents to be vigilant. Authorities were monitoring conditions to see whether any evacuations of lower-lying areas or school closures would be necessary.

"It is likely we will at least be hit with strong winds and some flooding in our coastal counties," said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Officials "do not want anybody to be caught off guard."

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack said forecasts called for tides of 4-7 feet above normal and rainfall totals of 5-7 inches within 24 hours, which could mean flooding along the coasts and along rivers.

Alabama emergency management officials did not immediately respond to phone messages.

In the Florida Panhandle, residents in Bay County and Panama City were being advised to secure boats and prepare for storm surges that could reach 2-3 feet. Heavy rain, wind and possible flooding was also expected.

"You really don't know until it gets close how you're going to be affected by it," said Brad Monroe, Bay County's deputy chief of emergency services.

Ida wasn't expected to pack the wallop seen in 2008 when hurricanes Gustav and Ike pelted the Gulf Coast back-to-back. There have been nine named storms this season, which ends Dec. 1. Ida is only the third hurricane to form, and neither of the others threatened land.

Ida wasn't expected to directly threaten New Orleans, where unflappable fans at the Saints football game seemed unaware a storm was approaching.

"We're used to tropical storms," said David Clements of Chalmette, La. "That's why we have a dome."

Earlier Sunday, Ida's wind and rain whipped palm trees in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Fishermen tied their boats down, though tourists seemed to regard it as a minor setback.

"It's not what we expected," said Kathleen Weisser, a nurse from Fernley, Nev. "We wanted sun. Instead we have liquid sunshine."

POSTED EARLIER

Hurricane Ida, the first Atlantic hurricane to target the United States this year, plodded early Monday toward the Gulf Coast with 105 mph winds, bringing the threat of flooding and storm surges.

A hurricane warning extended more than 200 miles of coastline from Pascagoula, Miss., east to Indian Pass, Fla. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are in effect across other areas of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, including New Orleans. 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 immediate plans for evacuations.

Sunday night, Ida was located 340 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving north-northwest near 15 mph. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows Ida brushing near Louisiana and Mississippi, then making landfall near Alabama before continuing across north Florida.

Yet many residents 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, director 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. In Florida, residents of Pensacola Beach and nearby Perdido Key were encouraged to leave and school was canceled in the area Monday and Tuesday.

Officials told residents to prepare for potential gusts of 60 mph by removing any tree limbs that could damage their homes and securing or bringing in any trash cans, grills, potted plants or patio furniture.

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.

"FEMA stresses that those in temporary (housing) units should not take chances," Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Andrew Thomas said. "Leave the unit behind and evacuate to a permanent structure that will better withstand tropical weather systems and the associated winds."

Mississippi authorities warned residents to be vigilant. Authorities were monitoring conditions to see whether any evacuations of lower-lying areas or school closures would be necessary.

"It is likely we will at least be hit with strong winds and some flooding in our coastal counties," said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Officials "do not want anybody to be caught off guard."

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack said forecasts called for tides of 4-7 feet above normal and rainfall totals of 5-7 inches within 24 hours, which could mean flooding along the coasts and along rivers.

Alabama emergency management officials did not immediately respond to phone messages.

In the Florida Panhandle, residents in Bay County and Panama City were being advised to secure boats and prepare for storm surges that could reach 2-3 feet. Heavy rain, wind and possible flooding was also expected.

"You really don't know until it gets close how you're going to be affected by it," said Brad Monroe, Bay County's deputy chief of emergency services.

Ida wasn't expected to pack the wallop seen in 2008 when hurricanes Gustav and Ike pelted the Gulf Coast back-to-back. There have been nine named storms this season, which ends Dec. 1. Ida is only the third hurricane to form, and the other two did not threaten land.

In New Orleans, unflappable fans at the Saints football game seemed unaware a storm was approaching.

"We're used to tropical storms," said David Clements of Chalmette, La. "That's why we have a dome."

Earlier Sunday, Ida's wind and rain whipped palm trees in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Fishermen tied their boats down, though tourists seemed to regard it as a minor setback.

"It's not what we expected," said Kathleen Weisser, a nurse from Fernley, Nev. "We wanted sun. Instead we have liquid sunshine."

Mexico had canceled all watches and warnings for the country.

Ron Kaczorowski, of Chicago, said his daughter was forced to move her beach wedding inside because of the storm. He said he had tried to reassure his disappointed daughter that the nasty weather would make her wedding stand out.

"I told her, 'How many people get married in a hurricane?'"

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 p.m. EST Sunday, shows its projected path through the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 p.m. EST Sunday, shows its projected path through the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 1 p.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 1 p.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

POSTED EARLIER

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 immediate plans for evacuations.

Sunday evening, Ida was located 445 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest near 12 mph. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows Ida brushing near Louisiana and Mississippi, then making landfall near Alabama before continuing across north Florida.

Yet many residents 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, director 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 their homes and securing or bringing in any trash cans, grills, potted plants or patio furniture.

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.

"FEMA stresses that those in temporary (housing) units should not take chances," Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Andrew Thomas said. "Leave the unit behind and evacuate to a permanent structure that will better withstand tropical weather systems and the associated winds."

Mississippi authorities warned residents to be vigilant. Authorities were monitoring conditions to see whether any evacuations of lower-lying areas or school closures would be necessary.

"It is likely we will at least be hit with strong winds and some flooding in our coastal counties," said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Officials "do not want anybody to be caught off guard."

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack said forecasts called for tides of 4-7 feet above normal and rainfall totals of 5-7 inches within 24 hours, which could mean flooding along the coasts and along rivers.

Alabama emergency management officials did not immediately respond to phone messages.

In the Florida Panhandle, residents in Bay County and Panama City were being advised to secure boats and prepare for storm surges that could reach 2-3 feet. Heavy rain, wind and possible flooding was also expected.

"You really don't know until it gets close how you're going to be affected by it," said Brad Monroe, Bay County's deputy chief of emergency services.

Ida wasn't expected to pack the wallop seen in 2008 when hurricanes Gustav and Ike pelted the Gulf Coast back-to-back. There have been nine named storms this season, which ends Dec. 1. Ida is only the third hurricane to form, and neither of the others threatened land.

Ida wasn't expected to directly threaten New Orleans, where unflappable fans at the Saints football game seemed unaware a storm was approaching.

"We're used to tropical storms," said David Clements of Chalmette, La. "That's why we have a dome."

Earlier Sunday, Ida's wind and rain whipped palm trees in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Fishermen tied their boats down, though tourists seemed to regard it as a minor setback.

"It's not what we expected," said Kathleen Weisser, a nurse from Fernley, Nev. "We wanted sun. Instead we have liquid sunshine."

Mexico had canceled all watches and warnings for the country Sunday evening.

Ron Kaczorowski, of Chicago, said his daughter was forced to move her beach wedding inside because of the storm. He said he had tried to reassure his disappointed daughter that the nasty weather would make her wedding stand out.

"I told her, 'How many people get married in a hurricane?'"

___

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 1 p.m. EST Sunday, shows it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and turning toward the Florida coast. (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 1 p.m. EST Sunday, shows it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and turning toward the Florida coast. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 7 a.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 7 a.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

POSTED EARLIER

MIAMI — A hurricane watch has been issued for coastal Louisiana and Mississippi as Hurricane Ida begins making its way through the Gulf of Mexico toward the U.S.

Ida could reach the northern Gulf Coast by Tuesday.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday morning that the watch does not include New Orleans and stretches from Grand Isle, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama state line. The watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.

A hurricane warning remained in effect for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.

Ida's winds remained at 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm. It was moving toward the northwest at 10 mph and was centered about 75 miles northeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Posted earlier:

Ida becomes hurricane again off Mexico's coast, projected to turn towards Florida

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. EST Sunday, shows it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and turning toward the Florida coast. (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. EST Sunday, shows it moving into the Gulf of Mexico and turning toward the Florida coast. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. EST Sunday. (NOAA)

CANCUN, Mexico — Ida grew into a hurricane for a second time as it roared over the Caribbean on a path that could take it between Mexico's resort-studded Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba before heading for Florida and the southern United States.

Tour operators and fishermen along Mexico's Caribbean coast, including Cancun, pulled their boats out of the water Saturday in anticipation of rains and winds from Ida's outer bands. But the hurricane appeared unlikely to make direct hits on either Mexico or Cuba, with its forecast track passing over the Yucatan Channel that separates the countries on Sunday.

Cancun's beaches were empty on Saturday as rain began pelting down, but tourists walked the streets under umbrellas or improvised rain ponchos. Most appeared unconcerned.

"We're not too worried. I'll get some good pictures," said Steve Rydgren, a 30-year-old photographer from Seattle, as he arrived in Cancun for a one-year anniversary vacation with his 29-year-old wife Stacy.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's winds had picked up to 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm. Ida plowed into Nicaragua's Atlantic coast on Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, laying waste to 500 homes and damaging bridges, power lines, roads and public buildings, before weakening into a tropical storm.

Forecasters predicted Ida would weaken over the Gulf of Mexico to tropical storm strength and possibly brush the U.S. Gulf Coast next week. The hurricane center forecast that Ida could strengthen to Category 2 later Sunday.

Realtor Beth Conway, 41, from Sacramento, California, said she was happy just to be in Cancun.

"We don't really care if it's rainy or sunny," Conway said as she gathered her luggage at the Cancun airport. "We were just hoping they weren't going to cancel our flight."

Mexico issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, from Playa del Carmen to Cabo Catoche, including Cancun and Cozumel. meaning that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.

Tropical-storm warnings remain in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Allen northward to San Felipe, and western Cuba and Grand Cayman Island.

Authorities started up a reporting system used to locate tourists and plan potential evacuations or shelters. Quintana Roo state Tourism Director Sara Latife Ruiz said there were about 36,000 foreign and Mexican tourists in Cancun.

"We can locate them and if necessary, take them to some temporary shelter," said Latife Ruiz. "Right now, no flights have been canceled ... and there has been no evacuation of tourists."

Early Sunday, Ida was centered about 85 miles east of Cozumel and moving northwest at about 12 mph.

Juan Granados, assistant director of civil defense, said seven storm shelters were being readied on Cozumel, five on Isla Mujeres and seven on Holbox, an island north of the peninsula. Statewide, dozens more were being readied for use if needed.

Authorities suspended fishing along part of the coast and told tour operators who offer reef snorkeling and diving excursions to stay in port, Granados added.

"We'll get some wind and rain, but that's about it," said James Watts, 34, part of a family from British Columbia, Canada, that runs The Summer Place Inn and a real estate firm on the island of Cozumel, near Cancun. Employees at the inn weren't taping up or boarding over windows, but Watts said small boats would be pulled ashore.

Popular Mayan sites such as the seaside ruins of Tulum were to remain open, but employees worked to clean up debris that could become a hazard in high winds, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.

John Cangialosi, a specialist at the Hurricane Center, said that as Ida heads north across the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to meet a cold front that is moving south — making longer-term forecasts complicated for now.

Regardless of how the cold front affects the tropical system, Cangialosi said residents on the north Gulf Coast can expect lots of wind and heavy rain.

Cuba's national Meteorological Center said it did not expect any direct impact from the storm, but noted it could cause heavy rains in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

Posted earlier:

Ida nearing hurricane strength, expected to affect Gulf Coast by Tuesday

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 p.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 p.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 p.m. Saturday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 p.m. Saturday. (NOAA)

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Officials readied storm shelters along Mexico's Caribbean coast Saturday and told fishermen and tour operators to pull in their boats amid warnings that Tropical Storm Ida could become a hurricane as it neared the resort city of Cancun.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's winds strengthened to near 70 mph (110 kph), just short of a Category 1 hurricane.

Ida's forecast track moved slightly toward the north, on a path that would take it through the middle of the Yucatan Channel that separates Mexico and Cuba around midday Sunday. Forecasters predicted Ida would then weaken and enter the Gulf of Mexico at tropical storm strength and possibly brush the U.S. Gulf Coast next week.

As rain began pelting down in Cancun, the beaches were empty but tourists walked the streets under umbrellas or improvised rain ponchos.

Realtor Beth Conway, 41, from Sacramento, California, said she was happy just to be in Cancun.

"We don't really care if it's rainy or sunny," Conway said as she gathered her luggage at the Cancun airport. "We were just hoping they weren't going to cancel our flight."

The storm caught others by surprise. "What storm? I checked the weather three nights ago. I didn't think to check it again," said Rafah Adoulhosn, 29, a pharmacist from San Antonio, Texas, who plans to spend a week in nearby Playa del Carmen.

"I had a week off. We had to take advantage of it," said her boyfriend, 31-year-old surgical resident Adham Saad.

Tropical-storm warnings were issued for the Mexican coastline from Punta Allen, south of Tulum, to San Felipe at the top of the Yucatan Peninsula, an area that includes Cancun. The warnings were also in effect for western Cuba and Grand Cayman Island.

A hurricane watch was in effect from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

Authorities started up a reporting system used to locate tourists and plan potential evacuations or shelters. Quintana Roo state Tourism Director Sara Latife Ruiz said there were about 36,000 foreign and Mexican tourists in Cancun.

"We can locate them and if necessary, take them to some temporary shelter," said Latife Ruiz. "Right now, no flights have been canceled ... and there has been no evacuation of tourists."

State civil defense Director Luis Carlos Rodriguez said "there is still time to protect property, so we have advised fishermen, small boat owners and those living in low-lying areas of Tulum, Holbox, Cancun and Playa del Carmen to take safety measures for their property."

Saturday evening, Ida was centered about 280 miles (290 kilometers) east-southeast of Cozumel, and about 165 miles (270 kms) south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba. It was moving north-northwest at about 10 mph (17 kph).

Juan Granados, assistant director of civil defense, said seven storm shelters were being readied on Cozumel, five on Isla Mujeres and seven on Holbox, an island north of the peninsula. Statewide, dozens more were being readied for use if needed.

Authorities suspended fishing along part of the coast and told tour operators who offer reef snorkeling and diving excursions to stay in port, Granados added.

"We'll get some wind and rain, but that's about it," said James Watts, 34, part of a family from British Columbia, Canada that runs The Summer Place Inn and a real estate firm on the island of Cozumel, near Cancun.

Employees at the inn weren't taping up or boarding over windows, but Watts said small boats would be pulled ashore, adding "we'll put some sandbags in them to keep them from going anywhere."

Popular Mayan sites such as the seaside ruins of Tulum were to remain open, but employees worked to clean up debris that could become a hazard in high winds, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.

John Cangialosi, a specialist at the Hurricane Center, said that as Ida heads north across the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to meet a cold front that is moving south — making longer-term forecasts complicated for now.

"There's going to be some sort of interaction between the two, but where they interact, and how, and the timing of the thing, that's kind of the big question mark," Cangialosi said.

Regardless of how the cold front affects the tropical system, Cangialosi said residents on the north Gulf Coast can expect lots of wind and heavy rain.

Ida plowed into Nicaragua's Atlantic coast on Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, damaging 500 homes along with bridges, power lines, roads and public buildings.

Cuba's national Meteorological Center said it did not expect any direct impact from the storm, but noted it could cause heavy rains in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

The Hurricane Center said a hurricane warning might be needed for the province by late Sunday.

From earlier

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 4 p.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 4 p.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Tropical storm warnings were issued Saturday for parts of Mexico and Cuba as Ida rapidly gained strength over Caribbean waters, and the storm could start affecting the U.S. Gulf Coast by Tuesday.

A hurricane watch was also issued for part of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The warnings were issued for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba. A tropical storm warning was also in effect for Grand Cayman Island.

A tentative forecast track from the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami shows the storm could hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in the coming days, but forecasters said it was too early to get an accurate picture of what Ida might do.

John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said forecasters should know more in the coming days. Cangialosi said as the system moves north across the gulf, it is expected to intersect with a cold front that is moving south, which is complicating projections.

"There's going to be some sort of interaction between the two, but where they interact, and how, and the timing of the thing, that's kind of the big question mark," Cangialosi said.

Regardless of how the cold front affects the tropical system, Cangialosi said residents on the north Gulf Coast can expect lots of wind and heavy rain.

Ida was packing winds of 70 mph (110 kph) Saturday afternoon and forecasters said it could become a hurricane later in the day. The storm was moving toward the north at about 9 mph (15 kph). It was centered about 230 miles (370 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Saturday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. Saturday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. Saturday. (NOAA)

From earlier

MIAMI — A tropical storm warning has been issued for Grand Cayman Island as Ida gains strength over Caribbean waters.

A tentative forecast track from the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami shows the storm could hit the U.S. Gulf Coast next week.

The warning means tropical storm conditions are expected on Grand Cayman in 24 hours or less.

Tropical Storm Ida, which was packing winds of 45 mph, was expected to approach the Yucatan Channel on Sunday. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico from Punta Allen north to San Felipe, and for the Cuban province of Pinar Del Rio.

Ida was moving toward the north at about 8 mph. It was centered about 220 miles southwest of Grand Cayman Island.

Former Hurricane Ida drenched Central America as a tropical depression Friday and edged back out over the Caribbean, where forecasters said it had some chance of regaining force and heading toward the United States. Southwest Florida residents will need to keep an eye on the storm as the area is now in the forecast cone.

Posted earlier:

Hurricane Ida weakens, Southwest Florida now in forecast cone

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Ida had winds of 75 mph when it hit the central Nicaraguan coast Thursday, but it quickly lost force as it slogged inland and winds were down to about 35 mph Friday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm smashed dozens of flimsy dwellings and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes in sparsely populated eastern Nicaragua. Bridges, schools and electrical transmission towers were damaged, but no deaths were reported.

By Friday evening, Ida had crossed over Honduras as a tropical depression and moved back into the Caribbean heading north toward the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters said it could strengthen into a tropical storm overnight or Saturday morning.

The still tentative forecast track showed Ida grazing the Cancun region of Mexico as a tropical storm Monday morning, then taking aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hurricane center also warned the Cayman Islands to keep an eye on Ida.

Late Friday, the depression was centered about 110 miles northeast of Limon, Honduras, and it was moving north at near 7 mph.

The 10 p.m. updated forecast track by the NHC has the storm coming up the central Gulf of Mexico then doing a turn back south. One of the computer models even forecasts the storm to be off Naples next week.

From earlier

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Friday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Friday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest Florida is in the cone of probability. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. Friday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 1 a.m. Friday. (NOAA)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Hurricane Ida swept onto Nicaragua's Atlantic coast Thursday, destroying homes, damaging schools and downing bridges before losing steam and becoming a tropical storm as it moved inland. Southwest Florida will still need to keep an eye on the storm as the area is now in the forecast cone.

Ida's winds swirled at 75 mph when the storm struck land around sunrise in Tasbapauni, about 60 miles northeast of Bluefields, said meteorologist Dennis Feltgen of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The battering wrecked all but 20 of the 100 or so flimsy, wooden shacks in nearby Karawala, a fishing village near the mouth of the Rio Grande de Matagalpa, Nicaragua's National Civil Defense director, Mario Perez, said.

"There was major damage in the region's infrastructure, such as fallen bridges, damaged schools and government buildings, and electrical transmission towers and telephone service were knocked out," Perez said.

No deaths or injuries had been reported, but Perez said officials were still trying to get information from the sparsly populated, jungle-covered region.

The fast-developing storm grew into a tropical depression and then a hurricane within little more than a day, then lost power as it stalled over eastern Nicaragua, with winds slowing to 40 mph.

Ida could dump as much as 20 inches of rain on the swampy mainland, with the risk of floods and mudslides, before weakening to a tropical depression as early as Thursday night while moving toward Honduras, according to the Miami-based hurricane center.

More than 3,000 people were evacuated before the storm hit — 800 of those from homes on Corn Island and nearby Little Corn Island, where strong winds damaged about 45 homes, smashed boats, toppled trees and knocked out power. Residents were taken to the port authority building and concrete hotels.

About 2,500 people live on the two islands, which are popular tourist destinations.

Rowena Kandler, owner of the Sunrise Hotel on Corn Island, said many fruit trees on the hotel's 13-acre ranch were damaged.

"We don't have electricity or water," she said. "Everything is on the ground now. Thank God we're alive."

The hotel had two guests who rode out the storm Wednesday night, but Kandler said they left for the airport Thursday morning.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated in Bluefields, and the airport closed.

At the Oasis Hotel and Casino, a half block from the shore in Bluefields, receptionist Adelis Molina said winds were strong and guests from the United States, Italy and Guatemala were hunkering down inside.

Heavy rains and winds kept officials from evacuating about 80 people on Cayos Perla, but authorities said they planned to used speedboats to get them out.

The storm is expected to regain strength when it emerges over the Caribbean Sea on Saturday, the center said.

Hurricane Ida strengthens as it batters Nicaragua. The storm's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida strengthens as it batters Nicaragua. The storm's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida, as of 7 a.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida, as of 7 a.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Poster earlier:

Ida weakens to tropical storm again over Nicaragua

MIAMI — Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm, weakening as it dumps heavy rains over Nicaragua.

The storm was at hurricane strength when it hit the country's Atlantic coast around sunrise Thursday, destroying several dozen homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 people.

On Thursday afternoon, Ida was clocking 65 mph (100 kph) winds. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say it was centered about 75 miles (125 km) north of Bluefields, Nicaragua, and had moved little since making landfall.

No deaths or injuries have been reported because of the storm, which has forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people. Ida was expected to weaken more as it moves across the mainland.

Poster earlier today:

Ida reaches hurricane force near Nicaragua, heading for Gulf of Mexico

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Tropical Storm Ida grew to hurricane force just off Nicaragua's coast on Thursday, forcing more than 2,000 people to flee their homes and knocking out power to some parts of the impoverished region.

The hurricane was forecast to slash into Nicaragua's Atlantic coast within hours, then cut across Honduras before emerging over open water on Saturday — a still-tentative path that could carry it near Mexico's resort of Cancun by midweek.

Ida was centered 60 miles north-northeast of coastal Bluefields early Thursday with winds of 75 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

It could dump as much as 20 inches of rain in parts as it crosses eastern Nicaragua, with the risk of flash floods and mudslides, according to the Miami-based center.

There were no immediate reports of deaths, but Nicaragua's National Civil Defense director Mario Perez said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated — 800 of those from flimsy, makeshift homes on Corn Island and nearby Little Corn Island, where strong winds damaged about 45 homes, toppled trees and knocked out power. Residents were taken to the port authority building and concrete hotels.

About 2,500 people live on the two islands, which are popular tourist destinations.

"There is no electricity on the island and telephone is out and there is little water," Perez said.

About 1,100 people had been evacuated in Bluefields, Perez said.

Heavy rains and winds kept officials from evacuating about 80 people on Cayos Perla, but authorities said they planned to used speedboats to get them out.

Nicaragua issued a hurricane warning for the coast from Bluefields to Puerto Cabezas.

Poster earlier:

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength, batters Nicaragua

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength as it batters a Nicaraguan island. The storm's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength as it batters a Nicaraguan island. The storm's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Tropical Storm Ida uprooted trees, knocked down power lines and forced the evacuation of 300 people on Nicaragua's Corn Island after forming Wednesday and quickly gaining strength in the southwestern Caribbean.

The storm was threatening to become a hurricane before making landfall in Nicaragua early Thursday morning.

Heavy rains and winds already pounded the popular resort of Corn Island, knocking down trees, electrical lines and telephone poles. Much of the island had lost and phone service, said Lt. Col. Reinaldo Carrion, the civil defense chief in Bluefields, the city nearest to the island.

Some 300 people were evacuated from poorly constructed, mostly wooden homes, Carrion said. They spent the night in offices of the port authority, the navy and some hotels.

"Fixed telephone lines are out, and cell phone and radio communication is difficult, so we don't have a lot of information," he told The Associated Press.

Ton Bos, owner of the Paraiso Beach Hotel on Corn Island, said winds and rain were heavy, but he had seen worse.

"There is a lot of rain, a lot of wind and some trees are coming down, but it's not a catastrophe," Bos told AP by cellular phone. "I've been here four years and it's been worse than this."

"I'll sleep very well tonight," he said.

Ida's maximum sustained winds were at 70 mph early Thursday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The center said weakening is expected once Ida moves inland.

The hurricane center warned of possible life-threatening flash flood and mudslides, saying storm could dump 15 to 20 inches of rain over eastern Nicaragua.

The ninth named storm of the Atlantic season was centered about 60 miles north-northeast of Bluefields and moving northwest near 7 mph.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the eastern coast of Nicaragua from Bluefields to the border with Honduras.

Poster earlier:

Tropical Storm Ida strengthens in southwest Caribbean, hurricane watch issued

MIAMI — Tropical storm Ida is gaining strength in the southwest Caribbean, prompting a hurricane watch for the eastern coast of Nicaragua and storm warnings for two Colombian islands.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the ninth tropical storm of the season took shape Wednesday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100 kph).

Forecasters say it could approach hurricane strength before making landfall early Thursday.

The storm’s center is about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It is moving toward the west-northwest near 6 mph (9 kph).

Storm warnings were in effect for the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia.


  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features