Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita batters Louisiana, Texas coasts

Category 3 storm nears early morning landfall
Hurricane Rita, packing winds of 120 mph, neared the Texas and Louisiana coasts early Saturday, lashing the region with strong winds and heavy rains as its storm surge caused renewed flooding in Katrina soaked New Orleans.
Forecasters said they expect Rita to make landfall early Saturday along the southwest Louisiana coast and upper Texas coasts as a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 111 mph to 130 mph.
At 1 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center placed the eye of the storm 40 miles southeast of Sabine Pass, along the state line between Texas and Louisiana. Rita was moving northwest at near 11 mph a path it was expected to follow until landfall.
Rita has weakened in intensity from its peak Category 5 status, when the massive storm had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph as it moved through the Gulf of Mexico. But forecasters and officials warned residents to take the storm seriously.
Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz, whose city is in the direct line of the projected path, said: "I'm afraid we're going to get it real bad."
Nearly everyone in the city of roughly 57,000 has evacuated. Ortiz said he is extremely concerned about Rita moving across Sabine Pass, pushing a large surge of water toward the city....


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