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Hurricane Ike still kicking up a storm


Floridians may have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Ike, but the storm is making a bee-line for the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall in Texas by late Friday or early Saturday, forecasters say.

There's still a tropical storm warning from west of Key West to the Dry Tortugas, but storm surges in the Keys and along the Cuban coast should subside today, according to the National Weather Service.

Ike, which killed 80 people in Haiti and Cuba when it barreled through those islands over the weekend, is a Category 2 hurricane with winds near 100 miles per hour (155 kilometers per hour), according to the weather service.  It will become a "major hurricane" in the next 24 hours, the agency said -- possibly strengthening to a Category 3 storm.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Texas issued a disaster declaration and activated 7,500 National Guard troops, according to the New York Times, and residents and workers in Brazoria County south of Houston were ordered to leave by 10 this morning.

But the Times says Ike may spare oil rigs in the Gulf area that produce one-quarter of the nation's petroleum if it shifts westward as predicted steering clear of the Texas-Louisiana border area where many of those facilities are located. Power is still out in Havana, according to the Associated Press. Some 2.6 million Cubans fled the storm, the newswire reports.

(Image by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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