Category 5 hurricane approaches Wake Island
Military officials consider evacuating up to 200 people
Military officials are preparing for the possibility of an evacuation of Wake Island as Hurricane Ioke, now a Category 5 storm, approaches.
"Nothing is official yet. This is all at the preliminary level," said Tech Sgt. Andrew Leonhard, a spokesperson at Hickam Air Force Base.
A meeting is scheduled today to determine if Wake Island will be evacuated.
Hickam officials said there are about 200 people -- contract workers, active duty airmen and Department of Defense civilian employees -- on the island.
A C-17 Globemaster 3 may take off as early as tomorrow morning from Hickam if the decision is made to leave the island.
Hurricane Ioke is expected to reach Wake Island, about 2,000 miles west of Honolulu, early Wednesday, said Jonathan Hoag, a forecaster for the National Weather Service.
The storm is predicted to pass within 50 miles of the island, but the actual path of the hurricane could vary by up to 250 miles, a forecaster said.
Hurricane Ioke became a Category 5 hurricane yesterday morning, with wind speeds near 160 mph and wind gusts as strong as 195 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles out from the eye and tropical storm winds extended 230 miles outward yesterday.
At 7 p.m. yesterday, the weather service reported Ioke was 930 miles east of Wake Island and 1,400 miles southwest of Honolulu, moving in a westerly direction at 14 mph.
The U.S. military maintains an airstrip for emergency landings of trans-Pacific flights. It also has a launch support facility for the U.S. Army Strategic and Missile Defense Command.
Ioke is the first Category 5 hurricane to develop in the central Pacific since record keeping began in the early 1960s, according to the National Weather Service.