Ike's Waves Begin Buffeting Texas

A massive Hurricane Ike sent white waves crashing over a seawall as it steamed toward Texas Friday, threatening to devastate coastal towns and batter America's fourth-largest city.

Ike's eye was forecast to strike somewhere near Galveston late Friday or early Saturday, but the massive system was already buffeting Texas and Louisiana, causing flooding along the Louisiana coast still recovering from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav.

The National Weather Service warned residents of smaller structures on Galveston they could "face certain death" if they ignored an order to evacuate; most had complied, along with hundreds of thousands of fellow Texans in counties up and down the coastline. But in a move designed to avoid highway gridlock as the storm closed in, most of Houston's 2 million residents hunkered down and were ordered not to leave.

Friday morning, Houstonians streamed in and out of a grocery store near downtown, carts filled with last-minute supplies.

Texans were getting hit from both sides, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lowell, a Pacific system, dumped nearly 8 inches of rain on Lubbock in 24 hours, flooding homes and roads. Some businesses closed, and Texas Tech University and other schools canceled Friday classes.

Ike would be the first major hurricane to hit a U.S. metropolitan area since Katrina devastated New Orleans three years ago. For Houston it would be the first major hurricane since Alicia in August 1983 came ashore on Galveston Island, killing 21 people and causing $2 billion in damage.

At 11 a.m. EDT Friday, the storm was centered about 195 miles southeast of Galveston, moving to the west-northwest near 12 mph. Hurricane warnings were in effect over a 400-mile stretch of coastline from south of Corpus Christi to Morgan City, La. Tropical storm warnings extended south almost to the Mexican border and east to the Mississippi-Alabama line, including New Orleans.

For more on Ike's equine impact, see:

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The Associated Press


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