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Bobby Jindal puts Louisiana on hurricane alert

world Updated: Nov 09, 2009 14:53 IST

IANS
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Louisiana State's Indian American Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency as the US Gulf Coast braced for the arrival of Hurricane Ida.

Forecasters predict that the category 2 storm will maintain its strength through Tuesday when it is expected to reach the northern Gulf Coast. Ida should then weaken and turn into a tropical storm.

After Ida hits land, it is expected to veer to the east, heading across the Panhandle and into the Atlantic Ocean by Thursday morning.

The National Hurricane Centre reported Sunday that Ida had winds of approximately 150 km per hour when it was located around 120 km east northeast of Cozumel in Mexico.

"Ida is expected to begin losing tropical characteristics on Tuesday as it nears the Gulf Coast but it could reach the coast as a tropical cyclone," it said.

The storm has already lashed parts of Central America and a tropical storm warning is in place for the western tip of Cuba.

A hurricane watch has now been issued for parts of eastern Louisiana and the Mississippi coast. This means hurricane force winds are likely in these areas in about 36 hours, according to Tampa Bay Online.

The state of emergency declaration is a precaution that frees up state resources. The National Guard and state agencies have been put on high alert.

Last year Hurricane Gustav caused an estimated two million people to flee inland from the Louisiana coast. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused a huge loss of lives and widespread damage in the state, including its capital New Orleans.