Over a million people in Southern Texas and Louisiana were under orders
to evacuate, as Hurricane Rita continued to bear down on the Texas coast.
Early this morning, Air Force Hurricane Hunter Aircraft
measured the Low Pressure inside the Eye at an incredible 898 MB,
making Hurricane Rita the 3rd most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, even
stronger than Hurricane Katrina which recently
devastated our neighbors to the east. Maximum sustained winds were
measured at 175 MPH, with higher
gusts, making Rita an extremely dangerous Category 5 Hurricane.
Traffic was snarled along I-45, as hundreds of thousands of
people attempted to flee Houston, with highways
clogged up to 100 miles
north of the city. Service stations along the evacuation route were
reported to be running out of gas, as well as many motorists,
stuck in the huge traffic jams. Governor Rick Perry took the unusual step
of ordering a halt to all southbound traffic along 125
miles of I-45 into Houston,
and opening all 8 lanes to northbound traffic
NASA also evacuated the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and
transferred control of the International Space Station (ISS) over to Russia.
Storm surge projections indicated that much of the Space Center might be
underwater once Rita makes landfall. Galveston, already
under a mandatory
evacuation order, and which was nearly wiped off the map by a deadly
hurricane in 1900, was a ghost town by late yesterday.
As of 1PM Thursday (Sept. 22), the center of Hurricane Rita was located
about 435 miles Southeast of Galveston, Texas, traveling west-northwest
at about 9 MPH. The NWS National Hurricane Center has reported that
Rita has decreased slightly in intensity to a strong Category 4
Hurricane, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 150 MPH, with
hurricane force winds extending up to 85 miles from the center, and
tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 185 miles.
Coastal storm surge flooding of 15 to 20 feet are expected, along with
rainfall of 8-12 inches, with isolated maximums of 15 inches,
particularly over Southeast Texas and Western Louisiana. Rita is
currently projected to make landfall sometime late Friday night or early
Saturday morning along the Texas coast near Galveston.
Of potentially greater interest to those of us here in North Texas,
after landfall Rita will travel over Central Texas, and
Rita's path is projected to pass right over the Dallas/Ft. Worth area!
If so, we can expect possibly heavy rains, strong thunderstorms, and
even possible tornados later this weekend. If Rita's movement slows,
and lingers over the metroplex, as some models suggest, we may also be in
for some heavy flooding in our area.
Rita slammed into the coast at about 2:30AM early Sat. morning (Sept. 24) as
a strong Category 3 Hurricane, packing sustained winds of 120 MPH, with
even higher gusts, and making landfall near Sabine Pass, just east of
the TX/LA border.
In a lucky turn, Rita veered just slightly east of it's projected path,
resulting in Houston and Galveston being spared from the worst
of Hurricane Rita's wrath.
Other areas were not so lucky, however. Doppler radar indicated that
the Beaumont area took a nearly direct hit. Lake Charles also appeared
to take a major hit, and the National Weather Service Radar Station at
Lake Charles was also disabled by Rita. Like an accidental
snapshot of a murder
taken by the victim, the last radar image showed some of the worst of
Rita hitting the area where the radar station was located.
Over 1.3 million residents of Texas and Louisiana have lost power so
far, as Rita spawned numerous tornadoes, ripped-down power lines and
exploded transformers across a wide swath. As
the storm moved north, the
Jasper & Woodville areas were also hit, receiving nearly a foot of
rain, reportedly floating an occupied house off it's foundation. Area
rooftops were also torn off, including the roof of Woodville's Police
By 10AM Saturday, Rita moved inland, but was still a Category 1
Hurricane, with sustained winds of 75 MPH, and much higher gusts.
By 1PM, Rita was downgraded to a tropical storm, but still packing
sustained winds of 65 MPH, and higher gusts.
Because of Rita's shift in direction just before landfall, the
DFW Area is no longer in the direct path of Rita,
although areas to the east of us are likely to get large amounts of
rainfall, as Rita moves northeast out of Texas.
Rita crossing Gulf of Mexico, moving towards Texas Coast
Hurricane Rita - visible satellite image, 9/22 4:15PM CDT
Eye of Hurricane Rita Makes Landfall near TX/LA border
Lake Charles, LA, NWS Doopler Radar, 9/24 2:37AM CDT
Rita Cuts Through Eastern Texas and LA, just misses Dallas
Hurricane Rita - visible satellite image, 9/24 11:45PM CDT
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