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Hurricane Rita
State News (archived) -
Hurricane Rita Targeting Texas
-by Arlington Mall.Com News Staff
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, who were 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 for evacuation.
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.
UPDATE...
Hurricane Rita Strikes Texas

-by Arlington Mall.Com News Staff
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 Dept.
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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