Hurricane Rita turns toward Texas-Louisiana border

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita weakened to become a category 3 storm on Friday with sustained winds of 125 mph. The forecast path is centered near the Texas-Louisiana border.

The core of the hurricane is expected to approach the Texas and Louisiana coasts late on Friday.

3-day forecast path.

Rita is expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 8-12 inches, with the storm slowing down and producing a total of as much as 25 inches across eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Bursts of tropical storm winds and rainfall amounts of 3-5 inches are possible in New Orleans.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers estimated that 6 inches of rainfall could breach the previously damaged levees. New Orleans' Ninth Ward, which saw as much as 20 feet of water during Hurricane Katrina, is currently in waist high water as a nearby levee was overtopped. Water is spilling over the levee in a section 100 feet wide.

Near the center of the storm, coastal storm surge flooding of 15 feet above normal tide levels is expected, reaching 20 feet in bays and rivers.

News of 3 levee breaches in New Orleans are being broadcast in televised reports. Tides are about 2 feet above normal along the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts, and tides will increase to 4-6 feet above normal, with large waves and swells.

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