(7:08 p.m. EDT) -- Category Two Hurricane Ike was located 720 miles east of Brownsville, Texas, and 370 miles south-southeast of the Mississippi River as of 5 p.m. EDT. The storm continues to head toward Texas and is expected to become a major hurricane within the next 24 hours.
(2:28 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Ike has strengthened to a Category Two storm and is headed through the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas. The storm is expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi early Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center reported at 2 p.m. EDT that the hurricane's center was located 255 miles west of Key West, Florida, and 395 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Maximum sustained winds are now near 100 miles per hour. The storm is moving toward the northwest, but is expected to turn toward the west-northwest later today.
Storm surge flooding should subside for Florida and Cuba, which have borne the brunt of the storm for the past few days. Higher tides are starting to occur along the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Some voluntary and mandatory evacuations have begun in Texas, especially in Brazoria County south of Houston and in Galveston.
Currently, only Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy are sailing out of Texas -- we'll keep you posted if their itineraries -- or any others -- change due to the storm.