13 September 2008 01:56 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Houston hunkered down on Friday night as Hurricane Ike began to bully its way onshore with the one-two punch of high winds and storm surges.
Houston Mayor Bill White warned residents that hurricane-force winds would begin to hammer the nation’s energy and petrochemical hub as early as 19:00 hours Houston time (24:00 GMT).
White ordered a curfew beginning on Friday night in those areas already under evacuation orders.
The colossal storm, which had hurricane-force winds extending some 115 miles from its centre, was strengthening, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Ike was a strong category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale with winds of 110 miles/hour (175km/hour) and higher gusts as of 1800 hours Houston time. High-rise buildings could see even higher winds, emergency officials said.
However, the massive storm’s centre was still about 100 miles from
The hurricane’s centre was expected to cross onto land either late on Friday or early Saturday.
Residents of the region were warned to expect hurricane force winds of at least 75 miles/hour for at least 10 hours.
Ike was also expected to produce a storm surge of at least 20 feet above normal sea levels and in some cases 25 feet above normal, producing widespread flooding.
"The surge extends a greater-than-usual distance from the centre due to the large size of the cyclone," the National Hurricane Center said.
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters that as many as 100,000 homes could be flooded in Ike’s wake. Some of them could be without power for as long as two weeks, according to emergency officials.
Ike’s blow to the heart of the national energy infrastructure will significantly impact fuel supplies throughout the south and the
The DoE said 13-14 of the 17 refineries along the Gulf coast from Corpus Christi to Port Arthur in Texas were shut down ahead of the storm. The remaining refineries were running at reduced rates, according to the DoE.
Shell said that more than 6m gal of fuel was delivered to Shell-branded stations in
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