As Hurricane Gustav was raking Southeast Louisiana on Labor Day, future Hurricane Ike was in his embryonic stages. A tropical disturbance moved off the west coast of Africa at the end of August. On the morning of September 1st, Tropical Depression 9 formed approximately 1750 miles east of Puerto Rico. The depression quickly strengthened into Tropical Storm Ike later that afternoon. Moving west-northwest, Tropical Storm Ike became Hurricane Ike on the afternoon of September 3rd, and was located approximately 885 miles east-northeast of Puerto Rico. Ike rapidly intensified into a major hurricane late that afternoon and into the evening hours, reaching a maximum intensity of 145 mph during the early morning hours on Thursday, September 4th.
Ike moved west and then west-southwest, to impact the Turks and Caicos Islands on Saturday, September 6th. On Sunday, September 7th, Ike slammed into the island of Great Inagua as a Category 4 hurricane. By Sunday night, Ike moved to the Cuban coast and made another landfall near the province of Holguin near Punto de Sama with maximum winds around 125 mph. Ike moved west across Cuba and eventually exited the southwest Cuban coastline near Camaguey into the Caribbean Sea on Monday afternoon, September 8th. Ike moved northwest that night just off the coast with a track that paralleled the Cuban coastline before re-striking Cuba near the town of Puerto Padre on Tuesday afternoon September 9th. The hurricane continued to move west-northwest toward the US. Gulf coast as it crossed the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night and early Wednesday, September 10th.
Over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Ike grew in size and intensified to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum winds of 100 mph by that evening. Ike continued to move northwest toward the Texas coast as the hurricane crossed the central and northwest Gulf of Mexico. Although Ike's intensity remained in the category 2 range, the cyclone continued to grow and became a very large hurricane. The diameter of tropical storm force winds covered a total of 425 miles from the northwest to southeast as the center of Ike approached the upper Texas coast on Friday, September 12th. Final landfall for Hurricane Ike occurred at 2:10 am CDT Saturday, September 13th near Galveston, Texas, as a Category 2 hurricane with estimated maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.
While tropical storm force winds were observed in portions of Southern Mississippi and Southeast Louisiana, the main impact to the area was water related. Due to the strength, large size of the hurricane, and slow movement, of Hurricane Ike, a significant storm surge impacted a very large part of the central and northwest Gulf of Mexico Coastline. In Southeast Louisiana, storm surge of up to 5 to 8 feet above normal in some areas, caused major tidal flooding of coastal areas, as well as the tidal lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas. Lower portions of Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Terrebonne Parishes were especially hard hit by storm surge flooding. Preliminary estimates indicate that up to 15,000 structures were flooded in the lower portion of Terrebonne Parish and 2000 structures flooded in lower Jefferson Parish from Lafitte and Crown Point to Grand Isle.