Hurricane Rita now has winds in excess of 165 miles per hour and is a CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE.
Washington Post: Rita Swirls Into 165-Mph Monster in Gulf
As many as 1 million people were ordered to clear out along the Gulf Coast, and hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated Wednesday as Hurricane Rita turned into a Category-5, 165-mph monster that could slam Texas by the weekend and inflict more misery on New Orleans. Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record ever to hit Texas, and easily one of the most powerful ever to plow into the U.S. mainland. Category 5 is the highest on the scale, and only three Category 5 hurricanes are known to have hit the U.S. mainland _ most recently, Andrew, which smashed South Florida in 1992.
One can only hope that after what was witnessed during and after Hurricane Katrina that people will heed the warnings and evacuation orders to leave the areas in the path of Hurricane Rita.
Houston Mayor Bill White has called for residents to leave low-lying areas of the city as Hurricane Rita approaches. Mr White has warned there are not enough government vehicles to evacuate everyone in the affected areas, and urged friends
Reuters: Texans evacuate as Hurricane Rita strengthens
“We hope and pray that Hurricane Rita will not be a devastating storm, but we’ve got to be ready for the worst,” said U.S. President George W. Bush, who was heavily criticized for an ill-prepared federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Texas prepared for Hurricane Rita on Tuesday by ordering the state’s first mandatory evacuation, declaring the state a disaster area and moving supplies to inland cities in anticipation of evacuees. Using a law passed this year, Galveston County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of its coastal communities beginning at 6 tonight. Elderly residents living in nursing homes and assisted living centers were to be evacuated by bus before dawn today.
CNN: Texans flee colossal Rita, Category 5 storm is third most intense ever.
Many heed the warning as what they had previously witnessed with Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast area.
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — As more than 1 million people scurried to get out of the way of Hurricane Rita, the Category 5 hurricane grew more turbulent, becoming the third most intense storm in history, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday night.
Officials said the barometric pressure near the eye of the storm was 898 millibars or less, a lower reading than Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into the Gulf Coast August 29.