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August 2021

[Sat / Aug 28] Hurricane Ida Quickly Intensifying on Approach to Louisiana

   Posted by Levi at 7:39pm on August 28, 2021




  • Anonymous says:


    • J Cantore says:

      The last post was from Saturday. Too bad TT does not have anything interesting to post as Ida makes landfall. Weak/lame come to mind.

      • Rallph Gorp says:

        You got that right!

      • Astro Jetson says:

        Wow, a free service that he does and you are complaining about it? Lame?

        He lives in Hawaii, there is a big time zone jump. It had made landfall before he would be waking up. I don’t know if you noticed, but the NHC updates are automatic, so if you scroll down slightly, you can see the latest. Like wise, the models are also current.

        I’m looking forward to J Cantore’s and Gorp’s new blogs.

        Thank you Dr Levi for your site and your analysis.

      • David Y says:

        Levi has almost never* covered the storms after landfall or even before landfall once the range of possible landfall sites is narrow. He’s always been clear that your local NWS and emergency personnel are the best place to look for advice when the storm is very close to landfall, because local conditions vary dramatically.

        * I think I remember that he did a post-landfall video for Harvey because it was hanging on so long.

  • Jim says:

    Thank you Dr. Cowan. God speed to my Louisiana neighbors, follow your parish emergency recommendations. We want you guys around for years to come.

  • James says:

    Thank you Dr Levi. We appreciate you so much. Praying for our neighbors.

  • Anonymous says:

    Really great analysis tonight Dr. C. There are a lot of people watching probably to busy with prep to say thanks so those of us not in the zone will hope they all come through this storm safely.


  • Cody says:

    You do a fantastic job. Thanks!

    • Suzanne says:

      It was a horrible storm! I believe it was severely underestimated by well experienced locals in New Orleans and surrounding parishes,including me. Damage is horrendous, I will leave next time like I’ve done before,never trust these storms.

  • Anonymous says:

    You really do a fantastic job on these videos, thank you so much

  • Sirena7cs says:

    Much appreciated Dr, Levi Cowan.
    Sending lottsa love to Louisiana from Florida.
    Our hearts are with you!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks from Baton Rouge! Really appreciate the explanations and detail.

  • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

    As always, this is the Gold Standard site for hurricane information.

    Let me respectfully suggest as I read the 10 PM CDT Discussion that Ida isn’t going to make it to 130 mph winds.

    However, the NHC is sunk very deeply into that forecast, and LA is emptying out like – coincidently – another Katrina is on the way.

    The problems Ida faces are time and distance; it doesn’t have enough time to intensify enough in the distance remaining to landfall to hit that 130 mph forecast. We are talking down to the last 12-hours here, and that just isn’t enough time to add 25 mph (25% higher winds!) to the wind speed.

    You need to hope I’m correct; if it doesn’t get over 120 or preferably 115, then a lot of people whom the NHC said would have “a life-changing experience” from Ida won’t have their lives devastated the way they would if Ida were hitting 130 – 140 as the NHC previously predicted.

    So, it appears LA is going to be blessed with a high-end Cat 2 or low-end Cat 3 – my prediction is 115, and with exceptional physics, 120.

    What this also means is less surge, less wave damage, less wind damage, and less damage off to the east of Ida.

    Regardless, you can be sure the NHC will be searching valiantly for a Cat 3 wind somewhere in the hurricane to validate all the predictions of a Major Hurricane. Ida is way too high-profile now for them to have to admit missing that target.

    I believe the NHC is aware of this, and that is why this is the first Discussion where they did not refer to the Cat 3 / Cat 4 mantra they have pronounced in every Discussion over the last two days of Discussions. In fact, this is the first Discussion in days where they did not box Ida into any particular Cat, which tells me they can see what we all can see: Ida is moving way too fast for the very low pressure inside the eye to spin the winds up to 130 from 105 in just 12-hours – especially as she is now moving out of the Gulf Stream Eddy with its incredible heat content, and into the lower temperature waters north of the eddy and the shallower continental shelf waters which are also cooler than the Gulf Steam waters she is now departing.

    So, it looks like LA will dodge that bullet. It has been a lousy season for hurricane formation in the Gulf; it’s been one poorly organized storm after another (which is a good thing!) and Ida just took too long to get to where she is tonight.

    If Ida had another 24-hour cycle, well, she’d be “Hell on Wheels,” however, she doesn’t have that time.

    Ultimately, it all boils down to the fact that Ida is moving way too fast to really pull everything together on her Gulf run. If she were moving around less than 10 mph, she’d have the time, but at an average of 16-mph nearly the entire time since she crossed Cuba, LA got lucky, because she is on railroad tracks with that speed and consistency of direction.

    Time for all of us to thank our Higher Power that the train left the station before Ida could explode into a mid- to high-level Cat 4. She just missed the train pulling out by a day.

    Which just goes to show that every once in a while, you win.

    (The author has been a hurricane chaser for the NY Times and Miami Herald for over 30-years.)

    • Paul in St. Augustine says:

      I’m sure the people who experience Ida at 105 mph will feel like they have “dodged a bullet”.

    • F2000 says:

      This aged poorly.

    • Houma, Louisiana says:

      145 mph winds @ 5am. This isn’t winning.

      • f2000 says:

        “my prediction is 115, and with exceptional physics, 120”

        150 mph @ 7 am. Not much time for a sudden weakening, but it hasn’t made landfall yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      150mph sustained now. Just goes to show the unpredictability of these things. When 30 years of chasing, you are in a much better position to predict than most of us, and it’s still easy to get it wrong. I remember Andrew was supposed to hit Boca and turned south at the last minute. Saved us the brunt of it.

      • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

        I remember that after Andrew passed, people couldn’t even recognize their own streets, and got lost trying to find their homes again.

        Andrew flattened Homestead; Ida may do the same to SE LA.

    • SWGeez says:


      The E.F.P.M. Model is now Copyright SWG. If you don’t like it, we don’t care.

    • ICader says:


      • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

        Thanks for screaming that in all caps.

        Again, Ida was a 1% occurrence. NESFO NOLA called top winds 5 mph over mine at 125, and NHC called 130, just 10 mph over mine.

        I was right there within 10 mph of their prediction, not exactly an outlier.

        Maybe you should copy your post and EMAIL it to them as well . . . I’m sure they will appreciate you telling them all the factors involved, and their need to be more carefull.

        • ICader says:

          I apologize for the caps. I didn’t mean to be inappropriate or rude; I just wanted to make my comment heard more effectively.

          Also, I will email them. Good idea.

          Anyone else who wants to (please keep it civilized and learn from my ‘mistake’):

          I’ll try to post the email here this afternoon. (P.S.: Do you want me to include the capitalization?)

          Also, I don’t despise your prediction, or hate you for attempting to defend it when you were one of the few brave enough to confidently cast a prediction, and I agree that its rapid intensification was otherworldly-who doesn’t think so? But the odds of this happening were laid out fairly far in advance, as I believe Dr. Levi showed in an earlier video on Ida, regarding the deep, warm pool right in its path.

          In my fairly limited experience with Atlantic systems, I’m sure this sort of thing has happened many times before, but I’m not familiar with how it ended up. However, with the current warm phase on top of an abnormally warm climate, that 1% based on the climate of decades past just got a bit larger.

          The biggest issue I have with the NHC, whether it be because I’ve yet to accept the political aspect of their forecasts or the exact science meteorology strives to be, is the fact that their intensity forecasts often are off the mark 3-5 days out. That time is crucial for preparation, and would make the whole process of evacuation a lot easier as well if people knew certain doom would befall their shores a day or two earlier. It may be a bit much to ask, but I’m just hoping that they change the cone towards a storm’s max. potential, or better yet, change the format for intensity on a cone to reflect a range of possible wind speeds (such as 75-90 as opposed to 80). I’m not a pro, and I don’t know the implications of these ideas, but after yet another seven-day surpriser, I’d like a bit more confidence in the forecast, one way or another.

        • ICader says:

          (To K.L.) Before I display the email, I would like to say that you are not the NHC, and you issued an initial prediction and statement entirely different from theirs. However, as the pros got it wrong as well until very close to landfall, I guess I have to hold them accountable as well. Not proud of this. (Click on the name for the image of the sent email; or here:

        • Anonymous says:

          “In the early 1980s, the chance of having a hurricane intensification event of 35 mph or more in a 24-hour period was about 1 in 100,” he said in an email. “Thirty years later, the chance has gone up by a factor of five to about 1 in 20. I suspect that the chances would go up even further if we included the past few years in the analysis.”

          Sadly, I don’t think it’s 1% in the current era of climactic climate crumbling.

      • ICader says:


    • Anonymous says:

      One bit of advice- when you’re wrong, ok! Don’t try to save face, make you seem not as incorrect, or claim others pointing out your mistake are at fault. Just admit it-that’s it-and we all move on. Sorry if I caused any pain or touched a nerve; I did not intend to.

  • Shawn says:

    I think you are little bit too overwhelming with ida situation.still can’t believe you rely posted that with Louisiana history with past storm even a cat2 can inadate the city. Take Henri for example even thou it was weaking while approaching new england it still managed to take life. It’s not rely about the wind that make these storm deadly but of other harzard such as storm surge coastal flooding terrentail rain etc. I would advise anyone who planning on riding out the storm to follow the advise given by Nhc and there weather service don’t wait untill last minute to get out.

  • Anonymous says:

    WTNT64 KNHC 290645

    Hurricane Ida Tropical Cyclone Update
    NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL092021
    200 AM CDT Sun Aug 29 2021


    • Shawn says:

      Now the situation is even more scary now than before. Ida looks very impressive on satalite imagery if it managed to slow down it can reached cat5 before dawn

      • Ryan C says:

        It looks like a tightly compact buzz saw on radar. This thing rapidly intensified over night. 936mb last pass from HH aircraft. Storm surge will be huge really hope people left.

  • Anonymous says:

    Can anyone comment on how the Gulf water thermal vertical profile is estimated? In the video above it is referred as a “strong eddy of warm water” and others have referred to it as “deep warm water”. This implies to me the data is more than just surface temperatures, but rather a measure of temperature at various depths. I would assume its satellite data and wonder, is there publicly available data used for these estimates, or more generally how are the estimates made?

  • heather says:

    I’ve seen multiple decades-long hurricane watchers say the same thing, that there was no physical way that Ida would become more than a cat 2 or low cat 3. Yet here we are.

    Was this a perfect storm scenario? How did the intensification happen so quickly?

    • ICader says:

      Hurricanes typically do well with low-to-no wind shear, warm waters down deep and at the surface, a bit o’ time, and moisture. Ida had all of those elements, except for time. Because everyone expected that:

      -Ida would be a short-lived storm, making landfall too quick to intensify substantially,
      -Ida would abide by the meteorological averages of the past few decades rather than the extremely conducive climate of the present,

      they underestimated the potential strength of the storm. However, things do change, and a small decrease in forward speed plus one concentrated area of extremely warm waters both deep below and at the surface of Ida’s path led to the 45 mph increase in max. wind speed that few considered possible.

      This wasn’t what I’d call perfect, but it surely was good enough.

  • Kenneth Lamb says:

    Well, sometimes you get it correctly, and sometimes God has a different plan . . . Unfortunately, God doesn’t send emails to let us in on it.

    It’s important to note that Ida is one of only 11 Atlantic hurricanes to intensify this quickly. When you go back to records of all storms in the Twentieth Century up to the present, counting all the hurricanes and tropical storms in that time-frame, Ida is what . . . a 1% occurrence?

    Even the NHC didn’t expect these winds; at the 10 PM CDT Discussion they were still talking about 130 – NOBODY was calling it for 150. What we have here is a truly historic hurricane.

    The one-word summary of what we see is this: Unbelievable. Literally more than 99% of the time you don’t see this speed of intensification.

    So yeah, Ida didn’t do what 99% of the hurricanes normally do. When she came off the Gulf Stream Eddy, and headed into the lower heat-content continental shelf waters, the overwhelming behavior is the storm begins losing strength and dropping down the category scale.

    Since today is Katrina Day, respectfully, let me remind you that Katrina was a Cat 5 for several days prior to making landfall. However, once it got past the Gulf Stream heat, it dropped 2 categories to Cat 3 at landfall.

    The posted prediction is in-line with a significantly less intense hurricane – Ida at 105 compared to Katrina at Cat 5. And unlike Katrina, the posted prediction recognized Ida’s possibility of gaining wind speed – unlike Katrina which in nearly the same place, and at the exact same time of year, lost two categories.

    Someone posted that a 105 wind is still damaging; no argument. However, let’s not forget that today’s building codes mean that we don’t have the structural damage that we used to have from those winds, and people in modern construction can expect to ride those winds out.

    In short, 105 beats getting a sustained 150 wind anytime . . . with gusts now predicted at as much as 185. The building codes just don’t deal with winds of that magnitude because they are “once-in-a-hundred-years” storms.

    Not only will Ida devastate the Material World, it’s going to devastate innumerable lives as well. This afternoon, those who stayed put in the Bayou Parishes will be having an intense relationship discussion with their Higher Power.

    Speaking of Andrew, I covered it, and I can still vividly recall the shear terror in the voices of people in the Homestead area where Andrew hit as they called into the Talk Radio stations, asking everyone, and anyone, to pray they made it through Andrew alive.

    The TV stations will soon enough pull their people out of the field for their own safety. So you might want to do a lookup using – the search engine that doesn’t track you – to set your browser to tune in to the small-town local radio stations, and the metro Talk Radio stations, and get a perspective on what those who chose to stay behind are going through.

    As much as some may have feelings of superiority about this, I’ll once again restate that Ida is a less than a 1% occurrence; nobody makes predictions based on a 1% chance of actualization.

    And frankly, as I stated in my post, we should all have wished I was correct instead going “nanner-nanner” that it was incorrect.

    There is absolutely no joy in what is going to happen to SE LA.

    As the forecaster on one New Orleans TV station said, “Nothing stands up to that.”

    “Ida the one-percenter” is going to do exactly what the NHC said in one of its Discussions: “Ida will be a life-changing hurricane.”

    For their sake, I wish my prediction had been correct. I hope you have the empathy for others that you can wish so too.

    (The author has been a hurricane chaser for the NY Times and Miami Herald for over 30-years.)


    • f2000 says:

      It’s possible to have hoped you were correct while also taking note of the fact that you went out of your way to pompously look down your nose at the predictions from the NHC and others while being as wrong as you were certain.

      • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

        Thanks for the constructive comments.

        FYI, the 4:55 AM NWSFO New Orleans local Forecaster Discussion told readers the top wind they expected was 125 mph, so my post was only 5 – 10 mph below the NWSFO. It also shows that I wasn’t the only one that expected the 99% envelope of weakening before landfall to incude Ida.

        What I, and NWSFO New Orleans, stated was “the norm” for landfalling hurricanes.

        If you read something into it that was in your mind, but not mine, I can’t be responsible for what you project onto me. I’ve worked far too many years with the NWSFO Gulf Coast offices and the NHC for them to ever feel I “look down my nose” at them. There is no question of mutual respect between us.

        I called it 115 – 120, NWSFO New Orleans called 125, and NHC called 130. A 15 mph spread is hardly an outlier.

        And it certainly wasn’t written disrespectfully.

        NOBODY predicts on the basis of a 1% occurrence. That’s why NOBODY called for 150.

        Stay Frosty . . .

        • ICader says:

          Again, why did the official forecasts seem to ignore Michael’s unforeseen intensification ONLY 3 YEARS AGO? Similar track, similar origin, while Ida had a significant heat advantage and Michael only slightly had the overall benefit of time.

    • PalmFaced Sunday says:

      Laughing GREATLY @ Kenneth (E? make up your mind) Lamb!

      • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

        Kenneth E. Lamb is my professional newspaper by-line. If you don’t read printed newspapers, the protocol probably escaped you.

        This may surprise you, but there is a world beyond the Twittertards, who seem to vie with each other to see who can be the ugliest hater in the Twatter-sphere . . . It’s a magnet for the psychopathic.

        I’m looking forward to reading your hurricane predictions for the next Gulf system. I’m sure you’ll hit it 100% with every post . . .

    • ICader says:

      “Even the NHC didn’t expect these winds; at the 10 PM CDT Discussion they were still talking about 130 – NOBODY was calling it for 150. What we have here is a truly historic hurricane.”

      That’s not true. I called it. Look at Thursday’s comments – I’m both Anonymous comments on August 27, 2021 around 11:13.

  • Charles says:

    Awesome job. Good info.
    Thanks. 🙂

  • Ernie says:

    Just heard a nitwit forecaster on CNN say a storm with 150 mph winds was 256 times more powerful than a storm with 75 mph winds because strength is “logarithmic”. I guess hurricanes must occupy more dimensions than we thought.

    • Anon says:

      The “nitwit” is correct in that the power of wind increases logarithmically; that is, exponentially rather than linearly. Thus, the power in 150 mph is not twice that of 75 mph winds, but many, many times that. The same principle works on the drag of cars at various speeds…. A car going 50 mph will not have twice the drag of one going 25 mph, but four times. Just because you don’t understand the science doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      • Ernie says:

        Yes, exactly. But it depends on what the exponent is. In this case the force of the wind is a result of area, so twice the wind speed is 2^2 or four, as you say, not 2^8, or 64 times more powerful than you said.

    • ICader says:

      Logarithms are, essentially, numbers increasing exponentially. Here’s the official source, and the ‘nitwit forecaster’ actually did his research to perfection here.

      • Charles says:

        That source doesn’t say a 150 mph hurricane is 256x more powerful, only that it empirically has 256x more damage potential based on cost of damage.

        I’m not sure what the “nitwit” said but if he said power of the winds he may have misspoke or more likely was speaking colloquially. Wind power goes as the cube of velocity (

        One would expect damage to occur with a different velocity relationship than “power” since catastrophic failure of materials will not follow the same profile, e.g. something may withstand 90 mph with minor damage (10% loss), but completely fail at 105 mph (100% loss).

        In either case his point is an important one and people should respect even small increases in wind speed.

  • Shawn says:

    That message sound more persuading for people across the diaspora to take hurricane Ida seriously Kenneth. Since I have been tracking hurricane that 1% occurance start happening frequently. Last year we have 7 major hurricane being the 2nd intense season on record not saying that this year would surpass that expectation. What I’m trying to say is global warning is starting to take a toll on how these hurricane sprung up. Everyone here on earth have to take control of our actions here on earth. If it goes on for another 50years Like this the future generations will see things we never see. We all have to be responsible because global warning is evident and it is not of God but have but have men. The things we do won’t affected us now but years to come someone else will be affected. My prayers go out for the people of SE Louisiana who planning on riding out the storm and left in Arms way.Be safe as this storm passes by

    • Kenneth E. Lamb says:

      I respect your sincere commitment to humanity. Mother Earth is proud she birthed you.

  • heather says:

    At Galliano airport, winds are clocking at 100 mph, not 150 mph. Did the storm immediately drop 2 categories at landfall?

    • ICader says:

      Winds recorded by the NHC are, in effect, often over-estimations of the storm’s strength on the ground. Winds are significantly stronger at the elevations that hurricane hunters fly at, so while those measurements are the maximum strength of the storm, winds are likely to come under that at ground level. I believe the height-level measurements are provided to ensure that the public takes more caution than they would otherwise.

    • ICader says:

      Correction: Sorry; the max. sustained wind speed is considered the peak 1-minute wind at 33 feet, or 10 meters, and not the height-level measurements taken by Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Still, the winds are a bit higher at that elevation that on the ground.

  • William D says:

    …several of the spaghetti map intensity tracks are calling for Hurricane Ida to go out to the Atlantic over central NJ as a… Category 3 or 4 storm? How is that even remotely possible for a storm that will be completely over land for several days before? I think a few need to reboot their models!

    Congrats and thanks for your web site. One of the only ones that I trust!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hope you’re doin’ OK Levi!
    Best wishes buddy!

  • Howard Wiseman says:

    NHC has to synthesis weather science and public safety policy into a coherent message. This is the dynamic tension between intensity forecasting and the message to not merely look at landfall area for impacts. Private forecasters are under no such obligation, but responsible people like LC step back from scenario-casting as storms approach landfall to avoid dilution or confusion over the NHC’s public safety message. There is another category of hurricane wishcasters who should probably be ignored in their entirety.

    In order to reach catastrophic scale, the TC environment needs to be in balance and synchronized from all directions and along all axises. If this were easy, every storm would do. In actuality such alignment is rare, and discontinuous when it even happens at all. This is especially true in the Atlantic where synoptic complexity far exceeds the E. PAC where the super typhoons develop. Ida is really a perfect example. She had her moment over the loop current and then she didn’t. Landfall got caught with the eyewall cyclically degenerating, but with much less favorable conditions for the ERC. A luck break for LA, as Ida was still plenty strong and destructive at landfall.

    NHC handled this storm extremely well (track and intensity progs were unambiguous to be fair), and LC did a great job here as well. I have learned a lot here, but you have to listen and not merely cheerlead for a blockbuster every time.

  • Leroy H. says:

    I believe Ida was a 5 at landfall. I think I’m going to be out of electricity for three weeks.

    I’m still at a hotel until I can go by family who’s back home with a whole home generator.

  • Anonymous says:

    Anything on the horizon for the Gulf of Mexico?

    • fellowhuman says:

      There is a small little bunch of clouds that will eventually end up there, but the system is not forecast to become a tropical cyclone.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think ida was a five

  • Leroy H. says:

    I was told Ida was a Category 5 with sustained winds of 157 at landfall by a storm chaser documenting the devastation.

    The aftermath is so hard to recover from.

    Laplace, Louisiana had 18 wheelers laying on their side from being washed away by the flood waters at the truck stop casino complex, as visible from the interstate.

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