Hurricanes starting with "I" have been a particular menace in recent years — think Isabel, Ivan, Ike, Irene, Irma, Isaias and others. 2021 appears to be following suit.
Hurricane Ida is steaming through the Gulf of Mexico on this Saturday, expected to achieve major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher, 111 mph plus winds) before slamming into the Louisiana Gulf Coast late Sunday night or early Monday. Louisiana was hit by three hurricanes last season — Laura, Delta and Zeta. The region will be coping with a potential hurricane that could send significant surge into the New Orleans area while also dealing with packed hospitals due to the coronavirus delta variant surge. Best case scenario is it comes in a little below Category 3 strength and the worst wind and waves miss the more populated areas near Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the east and Lafayette to the west. But it's still a disaster for someone.
We won't see any effects from Ida in Southwest Virginia till at least Tuesday, with hot, sticky days and scattered afternoon storms the rule. It hasn't been quite as hot as earlier forecast this week, but daily low to mid 90s high temperatures and upper 60s to lower 70s dew points have made it plenty sticky. This will continue unabated through Tuesday.
Remnants of Hurricane Ida are expected to take a sweeping northeast path just ahead of an approaching cold front at mid week. It's difficult to say at this early juncture where the heaviest rain and greatest chance of storms with high winds or tornadoes may occur with Ida's remnants, which may tend to stretch out and move away from the old circulation center with time, but it's a pretty fair bet that our region gets at least some of that tropical moisture, pushed along by a cold front, Tuesday and Wednesday, maybe into early Thursday.
Next week's cold front is fairly stout — not the start of fall by any means, but maybe a hint of it, with lower humidity, highs backing down to the 70s to lower 80s after it passes, and perhaps even a morning with some 40s in outlying areas by Saturday as cool high pressure settles overhead.
Tropical systems working in tandem with cold fronts to break summer patterns are not uncommon — that's actually a big part of how fall happens annually, especially as we get toward late September and October. This does not appear to be the big break with summer, or a particularly long-lived one, but maybe just a breather as September gets rolling.
It could be also perfect timing for Virginia Tech's home opener and the second week of high school football next Friday, plus a nice Labor Day weekend beyond, with warm days, sort of cool nights and lower humidity.