Ike will strengthen into a dangerous Category 3 hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico today. Maximum sustained winds will be at least 111 mph, with higher gusts, around the wall of Ike's eye at the time of landfall.Even as oil fell below $100 a barrel today, there are concerns for the oil industry in the gulf and for damage to Houston, a major intake location for crude oil from other parts of the world. The wholesale market for gasoline jumped despite the falling oil price as refiners in the Houston area shut down operations in advance of Ike.
The storm surge has already reached the Texas coast. A massive surge as high as 20 feet above normal tides will slam the coast with locally higher amounts possible in some of the bays, pushed by hurricane-strength winds. The surge will threaten the seawall on Galveston Island, which is as high as 17 feet.
The western end of the island is unprotected by the seawall, and there are several spots in the city where the top of the seawall is much less than 17 feet high.
The surge will push through Galveston Bay as far north as the Houston Ship Canal, flooding low-lying areas between Galveston and Houston.
Harris County officials urged evacuation (which is a smart thing to do people) and there are concerns of probably injury and potential deaths.