Ike gains strength over Gulf, aims for Texas

I-45 is packed as residents move northward.
I-45 is packed as residents move northward.

Hurricane Ike is continuing its crawl across the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is centered about 225 miles west-southwest of Key West, Florida, and about 430 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It's moving toward the northwest at eight miles an hour.

The hurricane is still a Category 1, with maximum sustained winds nearing 90 miles-an-hour. It could grow into a major Category 3 storm before hitting Texas or northern Mexico on Saturday.

Ike has already killed 80 people in the Caribbean, including four in Cuba. Cuban state media report some 2.6 million people have sought refuge from Ike. The storm has shredded hundreds of homes across the country and left behind major power outages.

Meanwhile, about 7,500 National Guard members are on standby in Texas and coastal evacuations are expected.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.