Nearly 1 million people are evacuating the southeast Texas Gulf coast, with Hurricane Ike forecast to make landfall by late tomorrow or early Saturday.

The storm, which blew a deadly path through the Caribbean over the weekend, could be at Category 3 strength by the time it reaches Texas, AccuWeather forecasts. There are tropical storm watches and warnings from the Mississippi-Alabama border to New Orleans and south Texas, the Web site says.

As of 4 p.m. CDT, Ike was about 510 miles (820 kilometers) east-southeast of Corpus Christi and 400 miles (45 kilometers) east-southeast of Galveston, according to the National Weather Service.

The nation's biggest refinery and the Johnson Space Center both lie in areas vulnerable to wind and floodwaters, the Associated Press notes. Winds could reach as high as 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour), the newswire says.