Gulf of Mexico
THOUSANDS of people have fled the Texas Gulf coast as deadly Hurricane Ike bears down, growing in power after ravaging Cuba and the Caribbean.Ike, which has left more than 100 dead across the Caribbean, could slam into the Texas coast immediately south of the port of Galveston late tomorrow or early Saturday, the National Hurricane Centre forecast today.
It was listed as a category two storm but predicted to rise to three on the five-tier Saffir-Simpson scale.
"Ike could become a major hurricane today or on Friday," the centre said.
US President George W Bush has declared an emergency in Texas, freeing up federal aid to boost local efforts.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who ordered special disaster preparations, said state officials had begun evacuating ill, elderly and poor residents.
IMAGE: Hurricane Ike, shown here Sept. 10, is a Category 2 storm that could gain additional strength before making landfall in Texas. It is already one of the most deadly hurricanes of 2008, having killed dozens in Haiti and Cuba.
Everyone is marveling at Hurricane Ike's size. Tropical storm-force winds are being registered 255 miles from the eye of the storm, and satellite images show the storm engulfing the eastern half of the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of people are being evacuated from Galveston, Corpus Christi and other areas on the Texas Gulf Coast. "It is possible that Ike will make a direct hit on Galveston as a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds. The potential storm surge from such a hit could be in the 15-25 foot rang, which is capable of overwhelming the 17 foot sea wall in Galveston. I put the odds of such an event at about 5%." Hurricane Ike is the fifth hurricane to form in the Atlantic basin in 2008, and it was the most powerful to make landfall, when it struck Cuba. Before Ike, there had been four deadly storms in the Atlantic, Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav, Hanna and Tropical Storm Fay. Hanna, which is blamed for at least 163 deaths in Haiti, and possibly more than 500, is the deadliest storm so far. Behind Ike, Tropical Storm Josephine dissipated earlier this week, and in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Lowell has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it heads toward Baja California. The Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season is only now at its traditional peak. Already there have been 10 named storms, including five hurricanes (Bertha, Dolly, Gustav, Hanna and Ike), three of them major (Bertha, Gustav and Ike). The latest government forecast called for 14 to 18 named storms, seven to 10 of which would become hurricanes, three to six of them major. Remaining Atlantic storms names for this season = Kyle - Laura - Marco - Nana - Omar - Paloma - Rene - Sally - Teddy - Vicky - Wilfred.
Ike Damaged 200,000 Cuban Homes
HAVANA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Hurricane Ike damaged at least 200,000 homes, including 30,000 that were destroyed, as its high winds and torrential rains wreaked havoc on the full length of Cuba, the country's top housing official said on Wednesday.
SPECIAL VIDEO REPORT: HURRICANE IKE