Thousands Evacuate Texas Coastline in Advance of Hurricane Ike
Thousands of people have started evacuations of coastal areas of Texas as dangerous Hurricane Ike set its sights for a projected landfall either late Friday or early Saturday, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Harvey Rice, Dane Schiller and Richard Stewart late last night.
Exactly where it will strike is still any one’s guess as the powerful storms starts its slow trek across the Gulf of Mexico. But most computer models show that Brazoria County, south of Houston, is the likely target.
At 11 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, Ike was a Category 2 storm with winds near 100 mph. It was about 676 miles east of Brownsville and was moving northwest at 7 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“I cannot rule out Ike becoming a very large and dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” Jim Rouiller, a meteorologist with Planalytics Inc. in Wayne, Pa., told Bloomberg. “Ike will likely become a major hurricane tomorrow and remain so on Friday as it moves across the very warm waters of the Gulf.”
The Chronicle’s report continued:
Still, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he expects special-needs residents to be evacuated Thursday from low-lying parts of southeast Harris County along Galveston Bay, and that anyone else living there would be “strongly encouraged” to leave.
“We are in fact looking at 8- to 11-foot surges along the bay; facing basically hurricane force winds over most of the county and 8 to 12 inches of rain,” he said. “All of that combined makes for a very bad Friday night into Saturday.”
Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Galveston, San Patricio and Victoria counties and parts of Jackson County, and the city of Corpus Christi, Bloomberg reports. Officials have ordered mandatory evacuations for Brazoria and parts of Matagorda County, according to a statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Bloomberg also reports on the effect on oil production in the Gulf:
Refineries in Corpus Christi process more than 586,000 barrels of crude a day, representing about 3.7 percent of U.S. capacity, according to Energy Department data.
Some rigs, refineries and platforms shut down by Hurricane Gustav last week are staying closed. About 65 percent of offshore gas production is still shut.
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest oil company, shut oil wells in the Gulf as it evacuated offshore platforms and began preparing refineries in Texas and Louisiana. The Irving, Texas-based company, in an advisory today on its Web site, said 26,000 barrels of daily oil production and 130 million cubic feet of natural-gas output was halted.
BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, began shutting production from oil and natural-gas platforms in the Gulf today. The London-based company plans to finish evacuating all offshore workers in the region today, it said in a recorded telephone message.
Crude oil for October delivery fell 68 cents to settle at $102.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since April 2.