Hurricane Ike nearing the southeastern Bahamas
Ike remained at the same intensity and structure through the early morning hours of September 3. However, by the late morning, Ike began to intensify again. Microwave satellites depicted an eye beginning to form and Ike strengthened just below hurricane status.
The eye continued to become better defined and by mid-afternoon Ike was upgraded to a hurricane. Ike was in an area that lacked vertical wind shear and intensification was likely.
Due to the lack of wind shear, Ike began to undergo explosive intensification and was upgraded to a major hurricane with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) only three hours after being upgraded to a hurricane.
During the three hour span, the pressure dropped 24 mbar. Ike continued to intensify and was further upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale three hours later with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h) and a pressure of 948 mbar (27.99 inHg).
By the early morning hours on September 4, Ike had reached its peak intensity of 145 mph (230 km/h) with a pressure of 935 mbar (27.61 inHg), making it the most intense storm thus far in the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.
Ike was now forecast to weaken as the upper-level high to the north of the system continued to strengthen resulting in stronger northerly wind shear affecting Ike. The explosive intensification lasted roughly 24 hours as Ike intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane with a pressure drop of 61 mbar.
By the late morning, Ike began to weaken as the cloud tops around the eye began to warm. Models were forecasting Ike to encounter strong wind shear and slowly weaken but maintain major hurricane status.This trend of the clouds warming continued through the afternoon and Ike continued to weaken slowly. By mid-afternoon, Ike was barely a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h).
Ike began to show signs of intensification once more during the late night hours. The eye became more clear and better defined and the clouds around the eye began to deepen and become colder.
The show of possible strengthening did not last long. By the morning of September 5, northerly wind shear began to erode the northern part of the system and the cloud tops around the eye began to warm once more. The structure of the eye became less prominent by a microwave satellite showed that the inner structure of Ike was not deteriorating or beginning to undergo an eyewall replacement cycle.
A later pass made by the satellite found that the northern eye wall had eroded and most of the convection was in the southern semi-circle of the storm. This indicated that Ike was continuing to weaken as it remained in a hostile environment.