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.
Thanks to no warning time, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. History (ranked #4 in weather.com's Storm's of the Century). Now we can see them coming from their inception. Florida has been getting the recent hurricane headlines, but Texas also has a history. This season has seen an unprecedented number of hurricanes (for so early in the year) and the latest (Emily - already a Category 3) may be taking aim at Texas according to computer models. The Galveston Chamber of Commerce welcomes you! Track all tropical storm and hurricanes (and bone up on hurricane preparedness) at the NHC site. Hurricane basics at National Geographic: Forces of Nature - Hurricanes (FLASH)