A tropical depression strengthened Thursday night into a tropical storm and is expected to reach hurricane intensity before making landfall in Louisiana Sunday.

Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches have been issued along the Gulf Coast for portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall is increasing for portions of the northern Gulf coast, especially along the coast of Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The cone contains the probable path of the storm center but does not show the size of the storm. – National Weather Service

Forecasters expect the storm to strengthen to Category 2 hurricane before landfall. A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of 96-110 miles per hour.

Air Force Reserve and NOAA Hurricane Hunter Aircraft are currently tracking Ida as it continues to move across the Caribbean and towards the Gulf of Mexico. As of Thursday night at 10 p.m., Ida was located about 365 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba.

Meanwhile, in Southeast Arkansas, there is an increased chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms through Sunday. Other than some potential for locally heavy rainfall, the threat for organized hazardous weather looks to remain low through Sunday. However by late Sunday into early next week the tropical system may pass nearby to the east and southeast of Arkansas. This could bring some impacts to portions of southeast and eastern Arkansas. However details regarding the exact impacts are very uncertain at this time, according to the National Weather Service.