Hurricane Ike is continuing to march its way to the WNW towards the TX coast near Galveston this morning. Winds continue to be near 100 mph. At 9 AM Buoy 42361 reported a sustained wind of 94 MPH. Satellite imagery does show some entrainment of dry air in towards the center of Hurricane Ike and this be just enough to keep Ike from strengthening more as it approaches the coast. Maximum wave heights of around 35 feet are occurring to the NE of Ike's center and this could easily lead to a storm surge of 25 to 35 feet for Galveston Island and into Galveston Bay tonight into Saturday. This would put most if not all of Galveston Island under water. The official NHC track takes Ike directly over Galveston and then over Houston while several of the other models continue to track Ike just to the SSW of Galveston and then northward to the west of Houston. In either case, Galveston and Houston will both feel the brunt of Ike.
In addition, Ike is moving across the oil rich portion of the Gulf of Mexico and the oil platforms have been evacuated. In addition, the Houston area refines 30% of the country's oil. As a result, Ike will likely impact fuel prices this weekend into early next week. In fact, a gas rush and large increase has already occurred in Dekalb County, AL where gas prices jumped $.50 to $.60 cents in spots last night. I would anticipate that the any effects on fuel prices would be short lived as I am not anticipating Rita or Katrina like damage to the refineries and/or platforms.
Ike continues as if it will turn to the north quite quickly after landfall and rocket off into the Mid-MS Valley by Sunday. Its affects will be felt from TX-OH. Areas from eastern TX through LA and portions of AR and MS will likely see some strong t-storms and a few tornadoes, too. To the north of the center of the circulation remnants, gusty winds and heavy rain will be likely. Ike will still drag a cold front behind it that will likely make it to the Gulf Coast being the first to do so this Fall season. Most noticeable impact of this front will be drier air and cooler nights.
Regarding the disturbed weather being monitored near the SE Bahamas, it appears that the area will continue to drift to the WNW into early next week. This area still has quite a bit of convection associated with it; however there is still not a well defined area of circulation associated with it. I don't anticipate much in the way of further development and it is still likely that this area will be caught by the above mentioned front and taken out to sea by mid to late next week. Beyond this, there is another wave about 1400 mi east of the Lesser Antilles. It doesn't look well organized and doesn't show any signs of developing over the next few days. Only one model, at this time, take this area and develop it into a tropical system over the next week.