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Date of Issue: September 10, 2008

Ike makes landfall in Cuba, heads to Gulf

Hurricane Ike was a killer storm as it made landfall in Cuba Sept. 7.

Ike diminished to a category 2 storm as it traveled over Cuba heading for the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 8. The Florida Keys, evacuated over the weekend, were expected to begin feeling the storm’s impact.

But Ike was expected to gain strength, as The Islander went to press.

“The environment in the Gulf is expected to be very conducive to restrengthening,” the National Hurricane Center reported.

“The major unknown is how disrupted Ike will be when it emerges,” the NHC forecast continued, referring to Ike’s passage over Cuba, expected to take more than 36 hours.

The official forecast showed Ike turning northwest into the central Gulf, but the western Florida Panhandle remained within the five-day cone of uncertainty, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florida’s emergency management agency issued a warning on Sept. 8: “There is significant uncertainty in the long-range forecast track of hurricane Ike. It is important that all Floridians and visitors continue to monitor future forecasts.”

Emergency management officials also emphasized that even if the storm does not directly hit western Florida, it’s impact likely will be felt with strong waves, high winds and heavy rain. Such was the case last week with hurricane Gustav.

The NWS base in Ruskin predicted the Tampa Bay area would see as much as two inches of rain Sept. 9-10, increased chance of showers and thunderstorms, a lot of clouds and “rather breezy conditions.”

For Sept. 11-10, the NWS predicted that if Ike continues to move into the central and western Gulf, the area should see breezy east to southeast winds, scattered bands of rain, cloudy skies and high surf.

At one point last week, forecasters were watching four storms — Gustav as it dissipated over the southern United States, Ike as it rapidly gained strength, and also Hanna and Josephine.

Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall Sept. 6 along the North Carolina and South Carolina border and traveled up the east coast, eventually losing tropical characteristics over New England, according to the National Weather Service.

Tropical Storm Josephine, located about 1,200 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, was diminishing on Sept. 8, but still generating thunderstorms over the Atlantic.