Area Beginning To Experience Effects Of Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike continues to churn its way toward expected landfall somewhere between Freeport and Galveston late tonight or early Saturday morning.
Ike is currently a category 2 storm with highest sustained winds near 105 mph. Emergency management officials continue to stress that the hurricane could strengthen into a category 3 hurricane before it makes landfall.
Shortly after 2 p.m., Ike was centered about 165 miles southeast of Galveston and was moving to the west-northwest at 12 miles per hour. A 12 – 20 foot rise in water levels is anticipated along the coast from west of Freeport to the Bolivar Peninsula. Galveston Bay is expected to see a storm surge of 20-25 feet and tides may overtop the Galveston Seawall, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Houston area is expected to begin to feel the impact of Ike beginning later this afternoon. Tropical storm-strength winds and 5-7 inches of rainfall are expected throughout the areas west of Houston.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Galveston, the Bolivar Peninsula, and areas adjacent to Galveston Bay. Additionally, mandatory evacuations are in place for all of Brazoria County, except for Alvin and Pearland. This includes such communities as Freeport, Clute, Lake Jackson and Angleton.
In Harris County, people living in following ZIP Codes have been told to evacuate: 77058, 77059, 77062, 77520, 77546, 77571, 77586 and 77598.
Schools throughout the area have closed in anticipation of the storm, and extracurricular activities, including football games, have been cancelled or postponed. Most government offices have closed, with only emergency services continuing.
The U.S. Coast Guard is staging at Katy’s Merrell Center in order to be prepared for rescue operations. About 300 members of the Coast Guard, normally stationed in the Galveston and Clear Lake areas, are being housed in makeshift dormitories at the Merrell Center, and rescue equipment is being tied down in the parking lot to be prepared for rescue operations as soon as the storm passes.
The National Weather Service was blunt in its warning to people in Galveston and other coastal areas. Weather service officials said people “could face certain death” if they did not evacuate immediately.