LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Friday marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Ike, which blasted parts of the Ohio Valley with damaging winds.
National Hurricane Center archives say Ike reached peak intensity of 145 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 hurricane, over the open waters of the central Atlantic, directly impacting the Turks and Caicos Islands and Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas before affecting much of the island of Cuba.
Ike, with its associated storm surge, then caused extensive damage across parts of the northwestern Gulf Coast when it made landfall along the upper Texas coast with sustained winds of 110 mph.
After moving inland, Ike merged with a frontal system and moved quickly to the northeast, producing hurricane-force wind gusts of 75 miles per hour at Louisville International Airport on Sept. 14.
According to the National Weather Service office in Louisville, “A great deal of tree damage was done, along with light structural damage. Thousands of power lines were torn down, and Louisville suffered its biggest blackout in at least 30 years. Louisville International Airport was shut down and a state of emergency declared. Sadly, there were four fatalities caused by falling tree limbs.”
Ike, by now a remnant low, weakened and moved across southern Ontario and southern Québec and was absorbed by another area of low pressure near the St. Lawrence River on Sept. 15.
The NWS said there was a good reason Ike caused such high winds. Thunderstorms and breezy conditions had been expected to accompany the system’s low-pressure center. Instead, skies remained mostly clear and the sun was able to mix up the atmosphere, to generate the astounding wind gusts, according to NWS reports.
In addition to Louisville’s 75 mph gusts, The Greater Cincinnati Airport in northern Kentucky reached 74, Ft. Knox 64, Owensboro 63, Frankfort 62, Lexington 60 and Bowling Green had a peak of 50.
High winds continued into Ohio, where almost 2.6 million people lost power. The most extensive damage was reported in the areas near Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton.