On September 1, 2008, the National Hurricane Center began tracking a tropical depression that developed off the western coast of Africa moving west-northwest towards the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Later in the day, the weather pattern was upgraded to a “tropical storm” and given the name Ike.

On September 3—still moving across the Atlantic Ocean—the storm developed the telltale “eye” and was officially upgraded to hurricane status.

Hurricane Ike reached its peak intensity of 145 mph winds before making landfall in Cuba on September 7. It then weakened in the Gulf before reaching Galveston, Texas on September 13 with winds of 110 mph. From there it moved inland over the next three days, gradually losing strength but producing tornadoes in Arkansas and torrential rains as far North as Canada.

Despite days of advanced warning, at least 195 people died as a result of Hurricane Ike, including more than 100 in the U.S. With $29.5 billion dollars in damages in the U.S. alone, Ike is the third costliest Atlantic Hurricane ever, following Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005).

What Can You Do to Prepare for the Next Big Hurricane?

According to the National Weather Service, a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters.

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

Storm surge, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes and rip currents are the most dangerous aspects of a hurricane. But you can reduce their effects by knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take to help keep you and your family safe in case of an emergency.  

Below are some tips from UL and the National Hurricane Center’s Preparedness Guide.

Gather Information

  • Determine whether or not you live in an evacuation area by utilizing tools like FEMA’s Map Portal and FloodSmart.gov to assess your vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind
  • Learn how to access forecasts made by the National Weather Service
  • Keep a list of local emergency contacts

Plan & Take Action

  • Follow instructions from local officials, including evacuation orders
  • Stay away from downed wire, you never know if they are live
  • Stay out of high water, small currents can kill you and the water could be contaminated
  • Develop an emergency plan for your family, to include a meeting place and an out of town contact the entire family can reach in an emergency
  • Put together a disaster kit to include food, water, prepared meals, pet food and a first aid kit
  • Have a portable power generator on hand
  • Check on your neighbors
  • Check for the smell of gas
  • Do not walk into a flooded basement as there may be water that is electrically live
  • Wait until the area is declared safe before returning home

For more information on preparing your family and home to withstand a hurricane, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes and watch this video series created by the National Hurricane Center.