Fear that Ida could strike as Cat 3

Tropical Storm Ida swirled toward a strike on Cuba on Friday showing hallmarks of a rare, rapidly intensifying storm that could speed across warm Gulf waters and slam into Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center warned.

“The forecast track has it headed straight towards New Orleans. Not good,” said Jim Kossin, a senior scientist with The Climate Service.

Ida posed a relatively low threat to tobacco-rich western Cuba, where forecasters predicted a glancing blow on Friday. The real danger begins over the Gulf, where forecasts were aligned in predicting Ida will strengthen very quickly into a major hurricane, reaching 115 mph (185 kph) before landfall in the Mississippi River delta late Sunday or early Monday, experts said.

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