Hurricane Ida has weakened into a tropical storm over southwestern Mississippi, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Monday. “Additional rapid weakening is forecast during the next day or so, and Ida is expected to become a tropical depression by this evening,” the NHC added.
Ida pounded Louisiana after sweeping ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, flooding wide areas under heavy surf and torrential rains as fierce winds toppled trees and power lines, plunging New Orleans into darkness after nightfall.
The NHC added that Ida is expected to continue unleashing heavy downpours “likely to result in life-threatening” flooding.
The full extent of storm damage remained to be seen at daybreak.
Ida, the first major hurricane to strike the US this year, made landfall around noon on Sunday as a ferocious Category 4 storm over Port Fourchon, a hub of the Gulf’s offshore oil industry, packing sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour (240 kilometer per hour).
Its arrival came 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, one of the most catastrophic and deadly US storms on record, struck the Gulf Coast, and about a year after the last Category 4 hurricane, Laura, battered Louisiana.
At least one person has died after a tree fell on him when it was knocked over by high winds.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state, ordering federal assistance to bolster recovery efforts in more than two dozen storm-stricken parishes.