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Earth from Orbit: Hurricane Ida Causes Days of Destruction

September 2, 2021

At least nine people died from torrential rains in New York and New Jersey as Hurricane Ida moved North. NOAA satellites watched the destructive storm as it made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and then tore through the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana near Port Fourchon on August 29 as a powerful Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center

In just three days, Ida rapidly progressed from a tropical wave to a hurricane. After striking Cuba’s Isle of Youth as a Category 1 hurricane on August 27, Ida headed northward and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 hurricane. The wind speed, fueled by unusually warm ocean temperatures, atmospheric moisture, and low wind shear, increased by 65 mph 24 hours.

The storm, which brought hurricane-force winds extending as much as 50 miles from the hurricane’s center, is tied with 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 for the strongest maximum sustained winds at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane. 

By Monday morning, more than 1 million people in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power, after Hurricane Ida downed trees and power lines, flooded roads, and left at least five dead. Ida moved inland and brought heavy rainfall and widespread flooding from the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys into the Central and Southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, bringing record rainfall and deadly flooding to the New York region. Flash flood warnings were in effect Thursday for parts of northern Connecticut and Central and Western Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.  

 NOAA satellites monitored the progression of the storm as it developed and intensified. GOES-16 (GOES East) tracked its movement, winds, and lightning activity, and the Joint Polar Satellites System’s NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP satellites, measured moisture and temperature in the sea surface and atmosphere, which helped forecasters and first responders track the hurricane’s strength, direction, and intensity.