(12:42 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston at 2:10 a.m. local time and moved across the Houston metropolitan area before dawn this morning. The hurricane remained a Category Two storm with winds near 110 miles per hour.
The storm surge reached 13.5 feet -- better than the expected 20 to 25 feet -- but still caused major flooding in Texas and Louisiana. Galveston is under two to four feet of water. In Houston, windows in many downtown skyscrapers were shattered, and power is out across the area. Fires have been left to burn because emergency officials can't reach them. As the winds start to die down, rescue efforts will begin in earnest.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ike is weakening as it moves across Texas, with winds down to 80 m.p.h., as of 11 a.m. EDT. The center of the hurricane is located near Trinity, Texas -- 20 miles north-northeast of Huntsville and 35 miles west-southwest of Lufkin. Ike is moving toward the north and is expected to turn toward the north-northeast later today and a turn to the northeast tonight or Sunday. The center of the storm will cross eastern and northeastern Texas today and into western Arkansas tonight.
Because the size of the storm is so large, Texas and Louisiana will continue to experience heavy rains and higher-than-normal tides. Heavy rains are also expected in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan through Sunday. Tornadoes are also possible in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri.
The Port of Galveston is closed through at least Sunday, preventing Carnival Conquest from returning to the port until Monday. We will keep you updated throughout the weekend.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor
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September 13, 2008