Thursday, September 22

RITA MAY SHIFT NORTH-NORTHEAST TOWARDS BEAUMONT AND PORT ARTHUR

One cannot help but feel guilty about wishing your own imminent disaster on another, but there has been some additional movement in Hurricane Rita that now has it tracking slightly north-northeast of Galveston, up the coast in the direction of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Rita has also weakened slightly and is now a Category 4, rather than a Category 5 hurricane, and may, knock on wood, weaken further to a Category 3 storm.

The "Houston Chronicle" reports:

Hurricane Rita weakened slightly this morning, and forecasters said the Category 5 could be down to a Category 3 - meaning winds as high as 130 mph - by the time it comes ashore late Friday or early Saturday.

The most likely target for landfall has shifted slightly north today toward Galveston Bay, but forecasters believe it could shift even further north toward Beaumont and Port Arthur. The danger zone stretches along the entire central Texas coast between Galveston and the Louisiana border.


If you'll take a look at this map of the Texas Gulf Coast, understand that less than 24 hours ago Corpus Christie was preparing for a possible direct hit. Through last night and this morning, Rita has made slight changes in direction that would have it make landfall farther up the southeastern Texas coastline towards Beaumont. That said, understand that this hurricane's monstrous reach is damn near the size of the Gulf of Mexico, so wherever the eye makes landfall a large swath of coastline will be impacted.

Next, if you'll take a look at this map and locate College Station (northwest of Houston) and Huntsville (due north of Houston), understand that these are the nearest cities providing shelters for Rita evacuees. This will give you some idea of the expected reach of Rita, as it moves inland.

College Station is 147 miles by car from Galveston; Huntsville is 121 miles.

FOLLOW-UP: The National Hurricane Center