Ike: Category 2
Max Sustained Winds: 105mph
Minimum Pressure: 957mb
Velocity: WNW 12mph
Location: 165 miles SE of Galveston and 270 miles E of Corpus Christi
Ike has already proven to be larger than Gustav. Gustav produced hurricane force winds of about 70 miles from the center and tropical storm winds only 220 from the center. Ike is a very large tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds 120 miles out-from-center and tropical storm force winds extend about 275 miles away.
Ike's huge size has also created an incredible storm surge. While Ike has moved through the Gulf, the storm surge has continued to increase under the wide-stretching arms of the outer bands. Even though Ike is only a Category 2, the size of the whole tropical storm will cause major damage along the Upper Texas coast. I have also noticed the water along the MS Coast rising about 6ft, so I would expect the SW coastline of Louisiana to also see incredible rise in Gulf coast water.
I also realize you might be wondering about Ike's intensification. Ike's characteristics in the last 48 hours is a prime example of the difficult in forecasting intensity. Even in today's huge technology gains we still have major wrinkles to iron out in determining the formation of the intensity and eye wall. Also, the latest Wator Vapor loop tells me some dry air is hindering the flow of moisture in the storm. Tropical storms hate dry air, and with a continued influence of dry air I would be a little surprised to see Ike become a Cat 3 at landfall. Although at this point who cares about the exact category of Ike? We have already established Ike is a major threat to the TX coastline, and the storm surge will not diminish now. Now the only object that will stop Ike's storm surge is the upper-coast of Texas.
Sometimes I am not a stats guy when it comes to minor differences in projected tropical categories. My main concern is always the threat to human life, and Ike definitely posses a threat to human lives. If you have relatives in the Galveston/Houston area, please encourage your relatives to evacuate.