A grim warning for some Texans today: They'll face "certain death" from approaching Hurricane Ike if they don't evacuate.
Ike is a Category 2 storm but could become a "major" Category 3 hurricane by the time it reaches the upper Texas coast by midnight, according to the National Weather Service. Its surge has already reached the coast and is threatening the Galveston Island sea wall, AccuWeather reports.
Ike's effect could extend as far as a 200-mile (322-kilometer) radius from its center. In addition to south Texas, a hurricane warning is in effect in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
The storm is forecast to dump 5-to-10 inches of rain in east Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Winds are expected to rage at 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour) — a particular concern for high-rise buildings.
“Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single-family one- or two-story homes will face certain death,” the weather service said in a local bulletin to residents of Galveston Island, according to the New York Times. “Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed.”
More than 8,000 people in the area were killed by a hurricane in 1900, the newspaper notes. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff reiterated that Texans shouldn't take any chances. “This is not a storm to gamble with,” he told Texans, according to the Times. “It’s large. It’s powerful.”
(Image of Hurricane Ike by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)