Hurricane Rita makes landfall

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

The core of Hurricane Rita made landfall just west of the Texas-Louisiana border as a category 3 storm at 3 AM Saturday with sustained winds near 120 mph. The center of the eye crossed the coast southeast of Beaumont, Texas, near Sabine Pass, with the eyewall extending into Louisiana.

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.

Path forecast 5 hours before landfall.

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. There are reports of damage or leakage at three levee breaches.

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. 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.

Radar image of eye at shoreline. The radar tower was destroyed by the storm.

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