How Did Hurricane Ike Form?

Hurricane Ike, a 2008 hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States, began forming as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, became a tropical depression as it moved westward and was then upgraded to a tropical storm. After it briefly weakened, deep convection around the center and a lack of wind shear caused it to intensify and become upgraded to hurricane status.

On August 28, 2008, the wave moved away from the coast of Senegal and out into the Atlantic Ocean. By September 1, satellite coverage caused it to be designated a depression. By 5:00 p.m. the same day, tropical storm status was achieved, and forecasts predicted that within 36 hours it would be a full-fledged hurricane. Wind shear temporarily impacted the system, but then it began to intensify again. By September 3, Ike was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 135 mph. Soon afterwards, it reached its peak strength of 145 mph winds.

Ike first passed over the Turks and Caicos Islands and then Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas. It then moved westward and struck first the northeastern and then the southeastern coasts of Cuba before heading into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. It hit Galveston Island and mainland Texas as a Category 2 hurricane and became weaker as it moved across eastern Texas and Arkansas. Total fatalities due to Hurricane Ike were 195 dead and 34 missing, and property damage in the U.S. approached $30 billion.