Hurricane Ike is intensifying dramatically. The central pressure has dropped 11 mb in just four hours, and stood at 947 mb at 7 pm EDT. The latest Hurricane Hunter data show that the pressure is continuing to fall at a rapid pace. The winds have not caught up yet to the pressure fall, and remain at Catgeroy 2 strength. The satellite presentation of the hurricane has improved markedly, as Ike has walled off the dry air that was bothering it, and has built a solid eyewall of 9 miles diameter of very intense thunderstorms. The appearance of Ike on infrared satellite loops is similar to Hurricane Wilma during its rapid intensification phase, when Wilma became the strongest hurricane on record. Like Wilma, Ike has a very tiny "pinhole" eye, but the storm is huge in size. Ike has a long way to go to match Wilma, but I expect Ike will be at least a Category 3 hurricane by morning, and probably a Category 4....MOREFrom the Houston Chronicle:
Good evening. The track forecast for Ike tonight has edged significantly closer to the Houston-Galveston area, now bringing the storm ashore near Freeport.
As I wrote a few years ago, for Houston's sake, this is just about the worst possible place a storm could make landfall.
If the forecast remains centered upon Brazoria County and especially Freeport -- and of course that's a big if -- I would expect widespread evacuations in southeast Harris County and Galveston County to be called Thursday morning. I am not one to make editorial comments, but I am surprised that Galveston County has not yet called for a mandatory evacuation.
There will, of course, be fluctuations in the forecast location during the next two days, prior to landfall late Friday or early Saturday. Areas from Corpus Christi to southwestern Louisiana remain potential landfall sites. But as of now Houston couldn't be much more at risk than it is....MORE
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