Ida’s bark worse than her bite

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 10, 2009



LAPLACE – Although Tropical Storm Ida packed a minimal punch as it rolled ashore Monday evening, parish officials from across the region remained on alert until the worst of the storm had passed.

The storm remained a potent category one hurricane as it approached the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico Sunday evening but was quickly downgraded to tropical storm status as it reached cooler waters in the northern gulf. Meteorologist Chris Franklin for WVUE-TV in New Orleans said strong upper winds further contributed to Ida’s deterioration Monday evening.

“The worst of the wind and rainfall remained to the north and east of the center of circulation,” Franklin said. “It kept things fairly quiet over the New Orleans metro area and parts further west of the city.”

Franklin said steady wind gusts were felt throughout most of the area, but speeds stayed below hurricane levels. Only a trace of rain was reported at weather stations across the region.

Parish officials in St. John, St. Charles and St. James parishes said emergency management officials were monitoring the storm closely but not anticipating any hard-hitting effects.

“I think we once again dodged a bullet with this one,” said St. John Acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe. “We kept a close eye on water levels in Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, but the effects were minimal. If the storm had come in any closer west, it might have been a different story.”

High water and debris from the storm did cause the closure of the Ruddock exit ramps from Interstate 55 on Tuesday, when Ida actually made landfall.

Similar sentiments were shared in St. Charles Parish, where high water levels only affected recreational facilities in the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

“We monitored the storm for most of the day Monday and slowly ramped things down overnight,” said St. Charles Parish spokeswoman Renee Allemand Simpson.

According to the Governor’s office of Homeland Security, both St. Charles and St. James parishes declared a state of emergency as Ida approached. Boe said St. John held off on making the call because officials were not expecting a major weather event in the area.

“There is no deadline on making that call, and the information we were getting showed that it was not necessary,” Boe said.

Officials from Entergy staged crews around the area in anticipation of possible loss of power from the storm. As of Monday night, Entergy reported outages in the metro area were rare.

Additionally, many schools and government offices closed early or did not open at all on Monday, but most were reopened Tuesday morning.

At its strongest, the storm was a category two hurricane that caused landslides and other destruction in Central America.

No recorded hurricane has ever made landfall along the Louisiana coast in the month of November.

The forecast for the rest of the week calls for widespread sunshine with high temperatures in the mid 70s and low humidity.