Rita Downgraded to Tropical Storm

September 24, 2005 at 10:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

About 2:30 am early Saturday morning, Hurricane Rita made it’s expected landfall on the coast just east of Sabine Pass, Texas, with winds of 120 mph. It will be another day before first responders can get down to that section of the Texas and Louisiana coast, to survey the damage, and know just how bad it is.

By Saturday afternoon, Rita had weakened as it moved through the Piney Woods of far east Texas, and dropped below hurricane strength, to about 50 mph. But even as Tropical Storm Rita, the storm is still likely to cause problems. The biggest concern now is heavy rain.

Up to a foot of rain has fallen in far east Texas, from Jasper to San Augustine to Center and to just south of Shreveport, Louisiana. Widespread flooding is being reported in those areas. And many tall pine trees have been toppled by high winds, blocking roads and knocking out power to well over a million residents.

In the days ahead, Rita is expected to slowly creep northward toward Little Rock, Arkansas, and then turn eastward toward Memphis, Tennessee. Although the winds will diminish and become insignificant, Rita will still be a heavy rain producer. And all of the rain that falls will drain through creeks and streams that ultimately wind up in the Mississippi River. And of course, the Mississippi flows southward through New Orleans. That could become a big story late next week as the flood crest moves southward.

But here in the metroplex, we haven’t seen even a drop of rain from Rita. It hasn’t been far off. From eastern portions of Dallas, you could hop in your car this afternoon and drive east 15 minutes and find yourself in the rain. But that doesn’t help us out any in Dallas and Fort Worth. It looks like we will remain warm and dry for at least the next five days.

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