(11:34 a.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Ike continues to charge across the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas. Hurricane warnings are in effect in parts of Texas and Louisiana, with a tropical storm warning east of Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border. In preparation for the storm, evacuations have begun in Brazoria County south of Houston and in parts of Galveston, and cruise lines have begun to alter itineraries.
Hurricane Ike remains a Category Two storm, but has grown in size, according to a National Hurricane Center report at 11 a.m. EDT today. The hurricane's center is about 580 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi and 470 miles east-southeast of Galveston.
Ike's center is expected to approach the Texas coast by late Friday; however, Texas' weather conditions will take a turn for the worse much earlier than that, due to the large size of the cyclone. Coastal storm surge flooding of up to 20 feet above normal may occur, and the Texas and Louisiana coasts may get between 5 and 15 inches of rain.
Due to the path of the storm, Carnival has altered the itinerary of Carnival Ecstasy, which is scheduled to depart Galveston today. The ship will call in Veracruz on Sunday, instead of Cozumel.
We'll keep you posted as Hurricane Ike nears Texas.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor
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