The National Hurricane Center upgraded Rita Tuesday morning from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane.
… projected that it would intensify and produce dangerous “battering waves” and flooding in the Florida Keys in a matter of hours before heading westward into the Gulf of Mexico toward the region devastated by Katrina. As of 11 a.m., Rita was traveling at about 15 mph with sustained winds of 85 mph in the northern eyewall, with the prospect of impacting the Keys “directly,” the center said. While the Keys have been closed to tourists, there were reports that about 80,000 residents had remained in the area with hopes that they can safely ride out Rita’s fury.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R) recalled all emergency personnel helping with recovery from Hurricane Katrina to prepare for Rita, including almost 1,200 Texas National Guard members, wire services reported. “The time is now to begin mobilizing our resources and implementing our plan to ensure an orderly response before Texas is hit,” Perry said. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said emergency officials told him to be prepared to take in evacuees from Texas because of Rita.
CNN: Wind, rain lash area as Hurricane Rita gains strength
Rita strengthened rapidly on Tuesday to a Category 2 hurricane as it lashed the Florida Keys with flooding rain and strong wind and sparked fears the storm could eventually bring new misery to the Gulf Coast.
Rita went from a tropical storm with top sustained wind of 70 mph early Tuesday to a hurricane with 100 mph wind by early afternoon as it passed just south of the Keys, the National Hurricane Center said.
Rita strengthened rapidly to a Category 2 hurricane Tuesday as it raked the Florida Keys with flooding rain and sparked a flurry of storm preparations across the Gulf Coast.
Reuters: New Orleans jittery as new storm threatens Gulf