Hurricane Ike barreled toward Cuba as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm on Sunday and was forecast to sweep into the central Gulf of Mexico as a large and powerful storm echoing Hurricane Gustav. Ike's top sustained winds reached 135 miles per hour (215 kph), making it an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters said Ike could strengthen further before sweeping into Cuba late on Sunday, severely threatening sugar cane fields, the tourist hotels of Varadero and the crumbling colonial buildings of Havana. "In five days there will be a large hurricane in the central Gulf of Mexico," the hurricane center said. Alerts went up across eastern Cuba as residents shivered at the prospect of another major storm a week after Hurricane Gustav devastated parts of western Cuba. Tourists were evacuated from the Guardalavaca resort on Holguin province's northern coast, as were thousands of students picking coffee in the mountains.