Winds and rain from Hurricane Ike reach Texas coast
Sep 13, 2008, 2:12 GMT
Houston - Hurricane Ike began lashing the Texas coast late Friday with strong winds and heavy rains on Galveston, a barrier island of 60,000 residents.
Forecasters warned that residents in one or two-story buildings could face certain death from likely 8 metre storm surge flooding if they had followed evacuation orders.
At 0100 GMT, the centre of Ike was about 115 kilometres south-east of Galveston, but its winds extended outward up to 195 kilometres. The strong category-two storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale could still strengthen into a category three before the storm's centre reaches land in the next few hours, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.
The storm had sustained winds of 175 kilometres per hour.
The gravest problem was however the tidal surge created by the hurricane. Due to its large diameter, meteorologists compared its effects to that of a category 5 hurricane. Large parts of Galveston and other low lying areas nearby were already under water earlier Friday.
Ike has already killed at least 72 people in Haiti and four people in Cuba as it churned across the warm Gulf waters since last weekend.