Hurricane Ike was on the cusp of major hurricane status as it aimed for Texas, with winds of 177 kph on Friday.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm could become a Category 3 hurricane with winds of at least 178 kph before it hit the coast late Friday or early Saturday.
The storm was about 160 kilometers southeast of Galveston, and was moving to the northwest at 21 kph.
Towering waves began crashing crashing over the 5-meter Galveston seawall and floodwaters were rising in low-lying areas. Authorities said roughly 90,000 people in three counties had stayed behind despite dire warnings.