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Was Hurricane Ida Really A Cat 4?

August 31, 2021

By Paul Homewood


There’s two videos of Ida that I would recommend you watch. The second should follow on from the first, but you need to click on the link:





Both films were shot on the section of coast that took the brunt of the storm and surge.

It is clear from the first footage that the storm surge was no more than a foot, while the second set shows very little structural damage, either from winds or surge. If Ida really had been a Cat 4 storm at landfall, there would have been little left of these houses. Equally, they would have been flattened if the surge had been as high as threatened.

The sort of damage we see, uprooted trees, damage to less substantial wooden houses and so on, would be more compatible with a Cat 2 storm:




NHC updates indicate that the highest sustained winds measured on land were around 70 mph, though no doubt they were stronger nearer the centre of the storm. Ida may have reached 150 mph at sea, but there is no evidence whatsoever that winds were anything like as strong as this at landfall.

Another video, this time from CNN, tells a similar story. This is from LaPlace, which also took the brunt of the storm and where 800 inhabitants were trapped by flood waters. Despite the emotional interviews with locals, there is none of the catastrophic damage you would expect, or implied by CNN. This is of course not to minimise the very real damage caused by the level flooding which did occur.


  1. Dr Ken Pollock permalink
    August 31, 2021 10:38 am

    Paul, Many thanks for bringing a sense of perspective to this matter – something the BBC and others have completely forgotten. Ida has killed one person so far, when a tree fell on a house. Katrina killed 1,800. A lot of that was because the US Army built levees failed in the city. The replacements have held.
    I had a friend living on Chestnut at the time, in the Audubon district, and she survived by staying with a sister in Baton Rouge. No-one with any experience of Katrina could possibly call the impact of Ida “catastrophic”. Let’s try to keep it real – as you do by continually referring to historical records!

  2. August 31, 2021 10:45 am

    A single cyclone season in a single cyclone basin does not contain information about global warming.

    Please see

  3. August 31, 2021 11:01 am

    It turned and is headed up northeast. It was supposed to go over Morgantown, WV where I live, but the new map shows it south of us and heading to Washington, DC and NYC. We are slated for winds of 29 mph w/ gusts to 49 mph. It is now termed a “tropical depression”.

    With all the news hype, I think we should term it a “tropical desperation”.

  4. Harry Davidson permalink
    August 31, 2021 12:34 pm

    By the time the politicians at the top of the NOAA have finished with it, it will be Cat5.

  5. cookers52 permalink
    August 31, 2021 12:35 pm

    I would imagine the Saffir Simpson scale is historically based on wind speeds at ground level .

    I would also imagine that NHC forecasts do their best to take this into consideration.

    My observation was the conservative forecast only just made it into the Cat 4 domain, but then the media idiocy took over.

  6. dearieme permalink
    August 31, 2021 12:39 pm

    Perspective from WKPD:

    “Shetland holds the unofficial British record for wind speed. A gust of 197 mph (317 km/h) was reported on 1 January 1992. An earlier gust in 1962 was recorded at 177 mph (285 km/h), both at RAF Saxa Vord. However, it is expected that higher gusts than those reported would have been achieved as during both storms the measuring equipment was destroyed by the extreme weather.
    A wind gust of 194 mph (312 km/h) was recorded at Cairn Gorm on 19 December 2008 but was discovered too late to be verified by the Met Office.”

  7. another Jim permalink
    August 31, 2021 3:20 pm

    Looking at
    the highest recorded winds were at Southwest pass, LA
    with a max just over 100 mph, and Pilots station East at 110.
    No other coastal station came even close to 100.

    So, no, not a Cat 4

    • Duker permalink
      September 1, 2021 5:12 am

      The winds have to be ‘sustained’ as well , so peak gusts dont count.
      Its definitely a Cat 3

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 31, 2021 6:22 pm

    Allegedly a ship in the port recorded 150mph.

    But I think we know by now, the quoted wind speeds are based on complex modelling/satellite analysis of the entire storm system and have no resemblance to ground/air based physical measurements.

    • Wellers permalink
      August 31, 2021 11:22 pm

      The Weather Channel is up to its old tricks again…!

  9. dfhunter permalink
    September 1, 2021 12:40 am

    ever watch progs from “weather world” from the BBC –

    Same hype.

    • September 1, 2021 9:12 am

      Climate change: Big increase in weather disasters over the past five decades
      By Matt McGrath
      Environment correspondent

      Scientists say that climate change, more extreme weather and better reporting are behind the rise in these extreme events.

      Published 1 hour ago
      – – –
      Better reporting doesn’t cause bad weather 🤣

  10. I don't believe it! permalink
    September 1, 2021 12:42 am

    Unusually, my local commercial Radio Station (part of the Bauer Group) did report that the strength was at a category 1 level when it hit land. Unusual, because it is always pushing the climate change agenda in its news bulletins.

  11. Matt Dalby permalink
    September 1, 2021 9:21 am

    If Ida was a category 4 storm and killed one person this should be compared with the death toll, often into the hundreds if not thousands, when a similar strength storm hits a less developed country.
    Clearly the best way to protect people from extreme weather is economic development and better infrastructure, gained by using fossil fuels, and not cutting carbon emission which only perpetuates poverty and leads to higher death tolls from these sorts of events.

  12. DaveR permalink
    September 1, 2021 9:51 am

    Dr. Ryan Maue (via Twitter) posted a pic from the National Weather Service New Orleans LA showing preliminary reports sent from the lift ship, Seacor Eagle, with the NWS stating ‘… a sustained wind of 149 mph with a gust of 172 mph. This occurred as Hurricane Ida made landfalll.’

    There’re also apparent images from the actual boat readings out there showing values;

    Best, to alll if caught within that.

    NWS being an adjunct of US NOAA – and UN derived from, there’s almost a sense of MetO and BoM about it…

  13. Ben Vorlich permalink
    September 1, 2021 10:45 am

    It’s not the actuality that people remember, a Catholic is still a hurricane, it’s the panicky forecasts and messages of impending doom that are remembered.

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