Hurricane Ida: How Does the Storm Compare to Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

by Amy Myers

Residents of Louisiana are preparing for the worst as Hurricane Ida quickly approaches. Currently, weather officials expect the storm to reach land today, August 29, as a Category 4 hurricane. Already, this is a stronger storm than the state saw with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hoping to prevent the second devastation, meteorologists are examining how Ida compares to its predecessor.

Oddly enough, Hurricane Ida’s expected landfall date is the same as Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. The latest storm will also strike the same general region with approximately the same wind speed, 155 mph. But that’s where the similarities stop. Weather experts indicated that Hurricane Ida will be far more intense than Katrina.

“Ida will most definitely be stronger than Katrina, and by a pretty big margin,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told Associated Press. “And, the worst of the storm will pass over New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which got the weaker side of Katrina.”

Even worse, the storm could become a Category 5 before landfall, which the state has never seen. Back in 2005, Katrina weakened significantly before reaching the state, falling to a Category 3 with 127 mph winds.

Weather Expert Says Hurricane Ida May Cause Natural Disaster, Katrina Caused Man-Made Disaster

Another major difference between the two storms is the reach of their winds. While Katrina’s winds extended 98 miles from the center, Hurricane Ida’s will only reach 37 miles from its eye. Though that may seem like a positive difference, McNoldy explained that this may actually be more detrimental.

“[Hurricane Ida’s wind] has the potential to be more of a natural disaster whereas the big issue in Katrina was more of a man-made one,” McNoldy said.

Back in 2005, the main source of Louisiana’s damage came from levee breaks. The resulting floods from those failures caused a death toll of 1,833 and damage worth $176 billion. This year, however, the storm’s expected damage will derive directly from its force.

The city most at risk in Hurricane Ida’s pathway is New Orleans. Whereas with Katrina, the city saw the weaker part of the storm, New Orleans is now in a more dangerous quadrant of Ida’s path as it arrives from the southeast. Also in Ida’s path is Baton Rouge and surrounding industrial areas, which meteorologist Jeff Masters says is “the just absolute worst place for a hurricane.”

This means that the expected damage will not just affect Louisiana, but potentially the whole country.

“It is forecast to track over the industrial corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which is one of the key infrastructure regions of the U.S., critical to the economy, there are hundreds of major industry sites there I mean petrochemical sites, three of the 15 largest ports in America, a nuclear power plant,” Masters said.

“We’re certainly looking at potential losses well into the billions.”