The storm is expected to hit Louisiana later Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane,” the center said.
“It’s very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,” Mr. Edwards said on Saturday. “But I also want you to know that we’re not the same state that we were 16 years ago.”
The government has invested billions of dollars in improving the region’s storm protection infrastructure. Ida will present a significant test of that system.
On Saturday, a hurricane warning was in effect from Intracoastal City, La., to the mouth of the Pearl River, a region that includes New Orleans. Coastal counties or those near the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi and Alabama were also warning their residents of likely hurricane damage.
Kevin Gilmore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Orleans, said the hurricane will have “life-threatening impacts.”
“We’re not saying, ‘possible’ — we’re saying, ‘will occur,’ because we want people to take this extremely seriously,” Mr. Gilmore said. “I cannot stress enough how significant of a situation this is.”
Louisiana was also battered by several storms last year, including Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
As the weather system traveled north on Tuesday and weakened, it unleashed heavy rain in neighboring Mississippi. At least wwo people were killed and 10 injured when a deep crevasse opened up on Highway 26 in George County, about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Biloxi.
“We’ve had a lot of rain with Ida, torrential,” Mississippi Highway Patrol officer Calvin Robertson said. “Part of the highway just washed out.”
Seven vehicles plunged into the ditch, which was 50 feet (15 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) deep, Robertson said on CNN.
Officials warned residents about the hidden dangers of flood waters that might bring wildlife closer to neighborhoods.
Sheriff’s deputies in St. Tammany Parish were investigating the disappearance of a 71-year-old man after an apparent alligator attack in the flood waters brought on by the storm.
The man’s wife told authorities that she saw a large alligator attack her husband on Monday in the tiny community of Avery Estates, about 35 miles (55 km) northeast of New Orleans on Monday. She stopped the attack and pulled her husband out of the flood water.
Seeing that his injuries were severe, she took a small boat to get help, and came back to find her husband gone, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
MEMORIES OF KATRINA
Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, evoking memories of a disaster that killed more than 1,800 people in 2005 and devastated New Orleans.
But a $14.5 billion system of levees, flood gates and pumps designed in the wake of Katrina’s devastation largely worked as designed during Ida, officials said, sparing New Orleans from the catastrophic flooding that devastated the area 16 years ago