Hurricane Ida, 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm, to hit New Orleans on Katrina anniversary

Hurricane Ida, which strengthened rapidly into a Category 4 storm overnight, is expected to hit New Orleans Sunday on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The "extremely dangerous" hurricane's maximum sustained winds have intensified to 150 mph, and it is expected to reach landfall late this morning or this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. The northern eyewall is approaching the coast, the NHC said in a 9 a.m. CDT update.

According to Fox Weather's Janice Dean, only two hurricanes on record — since 1851 —  have made landfall in Louisiana with sustained winds that strong: Last Island in 1856, and Hurricane Laura in 2020. Both of those hurricanes were 150 mph at landfall.

All flights to and from the New Orleans airport were canceled on Saturday, and evacuations caused long lines at security gates. 

"The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is prepared for impacts from Hurricane Ida. All flights scheduled for Sunday, August 29 have been cancelled," airport spokesperson Erin Burn told Fox News in a Sunday statement. "Airport staff is currently onsite monitoring the facilities and will address any damage throughout the hurricane event so that airlines can resume flights once it is safe to do so."

Burns added that 40 flights were canceled on Friday, 226 were canceled on Saturday, and "there are 173 reported cancellations for Monday, Aug. 30."

Hurricane-force winds reached parts of southeastern Louisiana on Sunday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station reported a sustained wind of 105 mph and a wind gust of 121 mph, the NHC reported.

Flash flood warnings in Louisiana worsened Sunday. The National Weather Service described heavy rainfall in the areas of southeastern Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama as "concerning."

Rainfall is expected to reach rates of 1 in. to 3 in. per hour for six hours, totaling 3 in. to 6 in. of rain this afternoon. More efficient rainfall rates of 2 in. to 3 in. per hour will "begin coming ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River," according to the NWS.

Hurricane Katrina devastated Northern Gulf city during the last week of August in 2005, killing an estimated 1,800 people.

New Orleans is more vulnerable to hurricane damage than most cities for two main reasons, according to the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire. First, New Orleans’ elevation is about six feet below sea level; second, the area lacks wetlands and barrier islands, which serve as natural defense against storms.