Ida hurtled closer to the Gulf Coast on Saturday, a treacherous storm that could lash Louisiana within 24 hours as a Category 4 hurricane – 16 years to the day that Katrina delivered its devastating blow.


Forecasters said that the system was being fueled by extremely warm waters in the southeast Gulf of Mexico and would quickly become more intense Saturday. It could cause a severe storm surge and flooding to the state on Sunday.

“Today is it,” Jamie Rhome, acting deputy director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Saturday. “If you’re in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, you really, really have to get going because today is it in terms of protecting life and property.”

It appeared that many people were listening to the warning. Traffic was jammed westward on Saturday morning, especially out of New Orleans. Gas stations bustled.

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