Hurricane Ida Gathers Strength

November 8, 2009 Updated: November 8, 2009

A hurricane warning is in effect through Tuesday for the northern Gulf Coast of the United States, according to the National Weather Service. As of Sunday night, a hurricane watch was in effect for the entire Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Ida was expected to produce rain and winds across the central and eastern Gulf Coast, increasing into Monday and Tuesday.

Ida is a category two hurricane and is expected to produce three to five inches of rain, with up to eight inches in some areas. Rain is expected to reach as far north as the eastern portions of the Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachians.

Tropical storm force winds or greater, at about 150 mph are expected on Monday, with the highest gusts on Monday night reaching about 98 mph.

A hurricane is defined as an intense tropical weather system with stable circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons, and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones.

Typically, about 11 tropical storms develop in the Atlantic Ocean every year, six of which become hurricanes. In the space of three years, the U.S. coastline is hit about five times with hurricanes.

A category two hurricane such as Ida typically has winds of 96-110 mph, downs some trees, damages exposed mobile homes, some roofing materials, windows, and doors. The storm surge of a category two is usually six to eight feet above normal.