Those who judge hurricane risk merely by their Saffir-Simpson category number (1-5) are not getting the entire picture. Another (coincidentally-named) IKE (Intergrated Kinetic Energy) proposes an improved method of classifying hurricanes, one that takes into account their size and separates the danger components of sea surge (which kills 9 out of 10 hurricane victims) and wind. By that measure, Hurricane Ike is the most dangerous storm in 40 years. Ike's path reminds many of the greatest natural disaster in U.S. History, the Great Hurricane of 1900 (91 minute History Channel video on Google) which killed thousands due mainly to the great sea surge. After that the 17' Galveston sea wall was built and it has never been topped since by hurricane waves. Hurricane Ike may change that as current wave heights (WVHT) being reported by buoy data in the vicinity of Ike are well over 20 feet. A computer-simulated "Hurricane Carly" shows the results of various sea surges for the Galveston area (with graphic graphics): Play with real-time data and forecasts for the western gulf with the experimental nowCoast.
Hurricanes, as seen from orbit. Flying straight into a Hurricane. The list of worldwide Hurricane names. The history of Hurricane names.
National Hurricane Center and the Likelihood of Hurricanes. In December 2003 the NHC predicted a 68% chance of a major (Category 3-4-5) hurricane hitting the US, in fact there were three major hits on the US (Charlie, Ivan, and Jeanne). In December 2004 the NHC predicted a 69% chance of a major hurricane, in fact there were four major hists (Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma). The odds of that happening are about 0.9% (see link for math), or "statistically very significant evidence" the NHC predictions are understated. Forecast for 2006: 81% chance of a major hurricane.
The birth of Hurricane Wilma? Tropical Depression 24 is expected to become Tropical Storm Wilma by Monday, and forecasters are predicting that it will turn into the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures and other conditions are favorable for it to develop into a large, slow moving hurricane. Oil futures have already started going up in response to the threat.