Hurricane Rita


Hurricane Rita

Infobox Hurricane
Name=Hurricane Rita
Type=hurricane
Year=2005
Basin=Atl
Image location=HurricaneRita21Sept05a.jpg


Formed=September 17, 2005
Dissipated=September 24, 2005
1-min winds=155
Pressure=895
Da

Inflated=1
Damagespost=Ninth costliest Atlantic hurricane in history
Fatalities= 7 confirmed, 120 reported
Areas=Arkansas, South Florida, Cuba, Florida Panhandle, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas
Hurricane season=2005 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Rita caused $11.3 billion in damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast in September 2005.cite web | url=http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2005/tws/MIATWSAT_nov_final.shtml | title=November 2005 Atlantic Tropical Weather Summary | date=2007-01-23 | accessdate=2007-01-25 | author=National Hurricane Center | publisher=NOAA] Rita was the seventeenth named storm, tenth hurricane, fifth major hurricane, and third Category 5 hurricane of the historic 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.

Rita made landfall on September 24 between Sabine Pass, Texas and Johnsons Bayou, Louisiana, as a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It continued on through parts of southeast Texas. The storm surge caused extensive damage along the Louisiana and extreme southeastern Texas coasts and completely destroyed some coastal communities. The storm killed seven people directly; many others died in evacuations and from indirect effects.cite web|url=http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL182005_Rita.pdf |author=Richard D. Knabb, Daniel P. Brown, Jamie R. Rhome|title=NHC Rita Report|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English] __TOC__

Meteorological history

The storm system that became Rita formed at the tail of an old frontal boundary, where convection and low-level circulation around an upper-level low developed steadily for over two days. A surface low formed near the disturbance, and the season's 18th tropical depression soon formed east of the Turks and Caicos. Less than a day after forming, the depression became the 17th tropical storm of the season on September 18 and was named Rita. A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the entire Florida Keys.

Rita was slow to become a hurricane; National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports early on September 20 estimated the storm's sustained surface winds at hurricane force (75 mph or 120 km/h). However, Rita lacked a complete eyewall; forecasters identified Rita as a tropical storm with 70 mph (110 km/h) winds overnight. Aircraft observations released at 9:45 a.m. EDT showed a closed eyewall and winds clearly at hurricane strength. Four hours later, the NHC reported that Rita had reached Category 2 hurricane strength, with 100 mph (160 km/h) maximum sustained winds.

Warm water in the Gulf of Mexico, 1 °F (0.5 °C) above average, favored storm intensification. As Rita entered the Gulf, rapid intensification began. National Hurricane Center advisories issued every three hours each showed strengthening from 5 p.m. EDT on September 20 to 11 a.m. EDT on September 21, when Rita's maximum sustained winds increased to 140 mph (225 km/h). Rita continued to gain strength unabated. An update at 2:15 p.m. CDT (1815 UTC) said maximum winds had increased to 150 mph (240 km/h) and Rita's minimum pressure was 920 mbar (hPa). Less than two hours later, at 3:55 p.m. CDT, another update reported that Rita had strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane, with maximum wind speeds of 165 mph (265 km/h). At 6:50 p.m. CDT, a reconnaissance aircraft recorded pressure of 899 mbar (hPa) away from the storm's center; the actual central pressure was thought to be lower still. At 10 p.m. CDT, Rita reached its maximum intensity, with sustained winds of 180 mph (290 km/h) and an estimated minimum pressure of 895 mbar (hPa), (26.43 in Hg).

Hurricane Rita's rapid intensification may in part be attributed to its passage over the Gulf Loop Current and Eddy Vortex. [http://nasa.gov/mpeg/134282main_ritaSkip_640x480.mpeg (NASA animation showing the storm track before landfall)]

Lt. Col. Warren Madden, a Hurricane Hunter and meteorologist for The Weather Channel, recorded a peak wind gust of 235 mph (380 km/h) while flying in the eye of the storm, and called Rita "the strongest storm that I've ever been in." Rita's intense winds destroyed or disabled several buoy-based weather stations.

Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas, and Johnson Bayou, Louisiana, at 02:38 CDT (07:38 UTC) on September 24, 2005 as a Category 3 Hurricane with winds at 115 mph. Rita lost both hurricane and tropical storm status the day of landfall. Rita's remnants — technically an extensive low pressure area — moved quickly out of the lower Mississippi Valley and were absorbed by a cold front. The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center ceased monitoring Tropical Depression Rita early on September 26.

Preparations

Louisiana

Before Rita, the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, had planned to begin reopening the city on September 19 after the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.cite web|url=http://solarnavigator.net/hurricane_rita.htm|author=Solar Navigator|title=Solar Navigator|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English] However, as Rita developed in the Gulf of Mexico, the reopening was cancelled and a re-evacuation of the city was initiated on September 21 as the storm was initially forecast to make landfall much closer to the city. Although Rita remained well to the south and west of New Orleans, a pre-landfall storm surge overwhelmed a levee of the Industrial Canal protecting the Lower Ninth Wardcite web|url=http://benfieldgroup.com/NR/rdonlyres/CF56C1E5-18B9-4518-BBBA-BBCCA3EE662E/0/Report_HU_Rita.pdf |author=Benfield Inc.|title=Catastrophe Perspectives|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2008|language=English] , a part of a fragile and already compromised levee system as repairs continued. At landfall, more parts of the levee wall were breached causing major reflooding in New Orleans. The original breaches had occurred a month earlier as a result of Hurricane Katrina.cite web|url=http://katrinadestruction.com/images/v/assorted+photos/nasty+new+orleans+photo.html|author=Illinois Photo|title=Illinois Photo|accessmonthday=31 August|accessyear=2008|language=English]

In addition, residents of Cameron Parish, Calcasieu Parish, and parts of Jefferson Davis Parish, Acadia Parish, Iberia Parish, Beauregard Parish, and Vermillion Parish were told to evacuate ahead of the storm. Cameron Parish was hit the hardest with the towns of Creole, Cameron, Grand Chenier, Johnson's Bayou, and Holly Beach being totally demolished. Records around the Hackberry area show that wind gusts reach over 180 mph from a boat tied up to a dock. The people were told to evacuate by Thursday, September 22, 2005 by 6:00 pm. Two days later, parish officials returned to the Gibbstown Bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Canal into Lower Cameron Parish. Nobody was known to be left in the parish as of that time on Thursday, September 22, 2005. Almost 3 years later, the parish is nowhere near its prior population.

Texas

Texas Governor Rick Perry recalled all emergency personnel, including almost 1,200 Texas National Guard and 1,100 Texas State Guard members from Katrina recovery efforts, and several hundred Texas Game Wardens in anticipation of Hurricane Rita's arrival. In addition, the Federal Government responded by deploying 11 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) [cite web
title = Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT)
publisher = U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
url = http://hhs.gov/aspr/opeo/ndms/teams/dmat.html
accessdate = 2008-08-07
] , mobile field hospitals, to stage across eastern Texas. The teams treated 7500 patients during the response. [cite press release
title = FEMA Salutes Response Teams
publisher = FEMA
date = October 12, 2005
url = http://fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=19640
accessdate = 2008-08-07
] cite web|url=http://foxnews.com/story/0,2933,169845,00.html|author=Associated Press|title=Coastal Evacuations in Texas|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English] On September 22, Governor Perry and the Texas Department of Transportation implemented a contraflow lane reversal on Interstate 45 north towards Dallas, on Interstate 10 west towards San Antonio, U.S. Highway 290 northwest to Austin.cite web|url=http://foxnews.com/story/0,2933,170145,00.html|author=Associated Press|title=Gridlock in Houston as Texans Flee|accessmonthday=29 June|accessyear=2008|language=English]

Officials in Galveston County (which includes the city of Galveston), which was devastated by the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, ordered mandatory evacuations, effective September 21 at 6 p.m., in a staggered sequence setting different zones in the area which were due to leave at different times over 24 hours, well in advance of the storm's possible landfall later in the week but not enough in advance to ensure that all residents could evacuate safely in advance of the storm.cite news
last = O'Driscoll
first = Patrick
coauthors = Richard Wolf and Rick Hampson
title = Evacuation worked, but created a highway horror
publisher = USA Today
date = 9/26/2005 7:47 PM
url = http://usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-09-25-evacuation-cover_x.htm
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Nonetheless, many residents remained in the county because they were either unaware of the danger of the storm or believed that it was more important to protect their belongings, particularly in the wake of looting following Hurricane Katrina. [cite news
last = Romero
first = Simon
title = With Faith and Hope, Some Stay Put in Galveston
publisher = New York Times
date = September 23, 2005
url = http://nytimes.com/2005/09/23/national/nationalspecial/23holdouts.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] The evacuation included transfer of all inpatients from the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital to other regional hospitals. [cite news
last = Mangan
first = Katherine S.
title = Texas Colleges Ready for Rita, as Some of Katrina's Academic Evacuees Are Uprooted Again
publisher = The Chronicle of Higher Education
date = September 22, 2005
url = http://chronicle.com/free/2005/09/2005092201n.htm
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] 400 patients were prisoners under the ward of the Texas Department of Corrections. [cite news
last = Clark
first = Noelene
title = "I'm not ever leaving again"
publisher = The Daily Texan
date = 9/26/05
url = http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2005/09/26/TopStories/im.Not.Ever.Leaving.Again-997963.shtml
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] These patients were systematically transferred to the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler.cite web|url=http://chronicle.com/free/2005/09/2005092201n.htm|author=Katherine S. Mangan|title=Texas Colleges Ready for Rita, as Some of Katrina's Academic Evacuees Are Uprooted Again|accessmonthday=30 June|accessyear=2008|language=English]

Officials of Harris County hoped that the designation of zones A, B, and C would be able to prevent bottlenecks leaving the area such as those seen out of New Orleans prior to Katrina and Hurricane Dennis earlier that year. [cite news
last = Sallee
first = Rad
title = 'Smoother' evacuation in works
publisher = Houston Chronicle
date = Oct. 6, 2005, 6:35AM
url = http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/05/rita/3384399.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Also, different zones were to be forced to go to certain cities in Texas and were not allowed to exit their designated routes except for food and gas - another feature of the evacuation plan which hoped to keep traffic and flow orderly throughout this timeframe. [cite news
last = Whitely
first = Jason
title = State unveils contraflow plan for hurricane evacuations
publisher = KHOU
date = 03:59 PM CDT on Monday, August 7, 2006
url = http://khou.com/news/local/fortbend/stories/khou060807_ac_evacuationroutes.898677.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] These evacuation-destination cities included Austin, College Station, San Antonio, Dallas, Huntsville, and Lufkin, Texas. Evacuees were asked to try hotels in the Midland/Odessa area when hotels began to sell out in other areas. [cite news
last = Grisales
first = Claudia
title = No room at Texas inns with Rita threatening
publisher = Cox News Service
date = September 22, 2005
url = http://oxfordpress.com/business/content/shared/news/nation/stories/09/0922_COXRITA_HOTELS.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] On Wednesday, Houston mayor Bill White urged residents to evacuate the city, telling residents, "Don't wait; the time for waiting is over," reminding residents of the disaster in New Orleans.cite news
last = Blumenthal
first = Ralph
title = Miles of Traffic as Texans Heed Order to Leave
publisher = New York Times
date = September 23, 2005
url = http://nytimes.com/2005/09/23/national/nationalspecial/23storm.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] After heavy traffic snarled roads leading out of town and gas shortages left numerous vehicles stranded, he backed off his earlier statement with, "If you're not in the evacuation zone, follow the news," advising people to use common sense. However by 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, the freeway system in Houston was at a stand-still. [cite news
title = TxDOT Traffic Update - 3:00 p.m.
publisher = KTRE
date = 09/23/05
url = http://ktre.com/Global/story.asp?S=3890929
accessdate = 2008-08-04
]

To the east of Houston, officials had set up evacuation routes in response to the slow evacuation of residents prior to Hurricane Lili. [ cite news
last = Moran
first = Kevin
title = Hurricane that missed Kemah started crusade
publisher = Houston Chronicle
date = April 14, 2006, 12:18AM
url = http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/3793245.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] During the Rita evacuation these preparations and their execution were overwhelmed by the enormous and unprecedented number of people fleeing from the Houston area prior to the local residents. By the time Jefferson County began their mandatory evacuation, local roads were already full of Houstonians. [ cite news
last = Struck
first = Doug
coauthors = Dana Milbank
title = Rita Spares Cities, Devastates Rural Areas
publisher = Washington Post
date = September 26, 2005
url = http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/25/AR2005092500335.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Designated evacuation routes slowed to a pace far worse than with any previous hurricane. [ cite news
title = With Rita strengthening, Galveston orders evacuation
publisher = CNN
date = September 21, 2005; Posted: 12:09 a.m. EDT
url = http://cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/09/20/rita/index.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] [cite journal
last = Litman
first = Todd
date = January 2006
title = Lessons From Katrina and Rita What Major Disasters Can Teach Transportation Planners
journal = Journal of Transportation Engineering
volume = 132
issue = 1
pages = 11-18
url = http://vtpi.org/katrina.pdf
language = English
format = pdf
accessdate = 2008-08-04
]

By late Thursday (22th) morning, the contraflow lanes had been ordered after it was determined that the state's highway system had become gridlocked. [cite news
last = Horswell
first = Cindy
coauthors = Edward Hegstrom
title = Evacuation Lessons come at high cost: 107 lives
publisher = Houston Chronicle
date = Sept. 29, 2005, 4:59PM
url = http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/topfront/3374468.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] The Texas Department of Transportation was unprepared to execute such a large-scale evacuation. [cite news
title = Gridlock: I-10, I-45 contraflow lanes implemented
publisher = KHOU
date = 03:20 PM CDT on Thursday, September 22, 2005
url = http://khou.com/news/local/houstonmetro/stories/khou050922_mh_gburroads.80ccd245.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Coordination and implementation of the contraflow plan took 8 to 10 hours as inbound traffic was forced to exit and police were stationed to assist with traffic flow. [cite news
last = Austin
first = Liz
title = State officials: Contraflowing lanes wasn't easy
publisher = KVUE
date = 07:47 PM CDT on Friday, October 7, 2005
url = http://kvue.com/news/state/stories/100705ccjrkvuestateritacontraflow.d0d88491.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Evacuees fought traffic Wednesday afternoon through mid-day Friday, moving only a fraction of the normal distance expected. Average travel times to Dallas were 24-36 hours, travel times to Austin were 12-18 hours and travel times to San Antonio were 10-16 hours, depending on the point of departure in Houston. [cite news
title = Havoc from hurricane comes early to Houston's freeways
publisher = Houston Chronicle
date = Sept. 22, 2005, 11:34PM
url = http://chron.com/disp/story.mpl/topstory/3364562.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
] Many motorists ran out of gas or experienced breakdowns in temperatures that neared 100 °F (38 °C). Traffic volumes did not ease for nearly 48 hours as more than three million residents evacuated the area in advance of the storm. This was the largest evacuation in Texas history. [cite news
last = Hsu
first = Spencer S.
title = Repeat of Past Mistakes Mars Government's Disaster Response
publisher = Washington Post
date = Sunday, October 16, 2005
url = http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/15/AR2005101501106_pf.html
accessdate = 2008-08-04
]

As part of the evacuation, Johnson Space Center in Houston handed off control of the International Space Station to their Russian counterparts.cite web|url=http://globalsecurity.org/space/library/news/2005/space-050923-usia01.htm|author=Cheryl Pellerin|title=NASA Temporarily Transfers Space Station Control to Russia|accessmonthday=30 June|accessyear=2008|language=English]

Concerns had been raised over the state of the oil industry in response to Rita. The storm threatened a large amount of oil infrastructure that was left undamaged by Katrina.cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2005-09-22-oil-rita-prep_x.htm|author=David J. Lynch|title=Oil companies prep for hurricane, prices drop|accessmonthday=30 June|accessyear=2008|language=English] The Texas Gulf Coast is home to 23% of the United States' refining capacity, and numerous offshore production platforms were in Rita's path.cite web|url=http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/sep2005/nf20050922_3717.htm|author=Platts Oilgram News|title=Big Oil Braces for Rita|accessmonthday=30 June|accessyear=2008|language=English] A direct strike on Houston could disable more than a quarter of the United States' fuel-making capacity. [cite news
last = Douglass
first = Elizabeth
title = Rita Could Deal Blow to Oil Industry
publisher = Los Angeles Times
date = September 22, 2005
url = http://articles.latimes.com/2005/sep/22/business/fi-energy22
accessdate = 2008-08-04
]
Valero Energy Corp, the nation's largest refiner, stated on September 21 that Rita could have caused gasoline prices to rise well above $3 per US gallon ($0.79/L), at a time when the U.S. average price was $2.77/gal.cite web|url=http://theage.com.au/news/world/rita-shuts-down-us-refineries/2005/09/22/1126982154325.html|author=Reuters|title=Rita shuts down US refineries|accessmonthday=30 June|accessyear=2008|language=English]

Impact

In some areas, the effects of Hurricane Rita were not nearly as severe as anticipated. The storm surge feared in Galveston and Houston struck farther east as the storm's center came ashore at the Louisiana border; winds blowing offshore in Texas actually flattened the surge, which was only seven feet (2 m), well below the height of the Galveston seawall. The five inches (130 mm) of rain expected to fall overnight in New Orleans also did not happen, and the pressure on the levee system was eased. Still, storm surge of 15-20 feet (4.5-6.1 m) struck southwestern Louisiana, and coastal parishes experienced extensive damage. In Cameron Parish the communities of Holly Beach, Hackberry, Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier were essentially destroyed. cite web|url=http://newyorkreview.org/mag/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=308&Itemid=36|author=Margaret Saizan|title=A Visual Story of Hurricane Rita |accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English] In Calcasieu Parish the communities of Lake Charles, Moss Bluff, Sulphur, Westlake, Vinton and DeQuincy also suffered heavy damage. In Beauregard Parish the communities of DeRidder and Merryville also suffered heavy damage.

It is estimated that two million people lost electricity. cite web|url=http://benfieldgroup.com/StormCentre/2005+Storm+Season/Atlantic/|author=Benfield Inc.|title=Storm Centre|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English] Total damage is estimated at approximately $10 billion, making Rita the ninth-costliest storm in U.S. history. cite web|url=http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL182005_Rita.pdf|author=Richard D. Knabb, Daniel P. Brown, Jamie R. Rhome|title=Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Rita|accessmonthday=26 June|accessyear=2007|language=English]

Following Rita, gas prices fell in the U.S instead of rising as feared.

Deaths

The reported death toll by Rita was 120. Only seven were direct deaths. One was caused by a tornado spawned in the storm's outer bands, one was due to storm surge flooding and three others were caused by trees blown down in the storm. The two Florida deaths both occurred in rip currents caused by Rita's distant waves.

Direct deaths indicate those caused by the direct effects of the winds, flooding, tornadoes, storm surge or oceanic effects of Rita. Indirect deaths indicate those caused by hurricane-related accidents (including car accidents, crimes, fires or other incidents), cleanup and evacuation incidents and health issues (such as poisoning, illnesses, lack of emergency aid).

Arkansas

While Rita weakened to a tropical depression, the outer bands continued to spawn numerous tornadoes in Arkansas, including one in Lonoke County and another in Conway County, damaging many homes and businesses in several communities. In addition, significant flooding was reported in several areas. [ [http://www.ksla.com/Global/story.asp?S=1984599&nav=menu50_2_1 Shreveport weather stormtracker KSLA News 12 ArkLaTex Ark-La-Tex Doppler Texarkana Bossier MarshallThis Hour: Latest Arkansas news, sports, business and entertainment: ] ]

The tornadoes were unusual in that they moved in a northwestern direction due to the direction in which Rita was moving. Most tornadoes move northeast. [ [http://www.wkrn.com/Global/story.asp?S=3897351 WKRN | Our Apologies ] ]

No deaths caused by Rita were reported in Arkansas.

outh Florida and Cuba

More than 340,000 people were under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders in Florida and Cuba. Storm surge flooding was reported along the low-lying Florida Keys. The Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) connecting the islands was flooded and impassable in some sections. At 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 20, about 25,000 customers in Broward and Miami-Dade and 2,100 in the Keys were without electricity. [http://www.nbc6.net/weather/4989210/detail.html Rita Strengthens Into Category 4 Hurricane - Weather News Story - WTVJ | Miami ] ]

A state of emergency was declared by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and a federal emergency by President George W. Bush in four counties: Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe. More than 2,000 National Guard troops and dozens of law enforcement officers were brought in. In 2006, during the 17th season of The Real World, entitled Key West the cast was shown evacuating out of their Key West home to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was the second hurricane that seasons cast had to evacuated from. The other two hurricanes they had to evacuate from was Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma.

No deaths were reported in either Florida or Cuba from the initial impact.

Florida Panhandle

While the Florida Panhandle escaped most of the land effects from Rita, two deaths were reported on beaches. Both were due to high surf and rip currents caused by Rita's distant waves. [ [http://www.wkrn.com/Global/story.asp?S=3898247 WKRN | Our Apologies ] ]

Louisiana

New Orleans's levee system had already sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina before Rita's outer bands of rain fell on the city. On Friday, September 23, the day before landfall, rising water due to Hurricane Rita poured through breaches in the patched Industrial Canal levee in New Orleans' devastated Ninth Ward, as reported by the Army Corps of Engineers. Water entered the Ninth Ward over two 32-foot (10 m) wide patches in the levee as of about 9 a.m. CDT on Friday, September 23. Water in the Ninth Ward was reported to be waist-deep at 11 a.m. CDT on Friday. By approximately 5 p.m. CDT, water had begun gushing through another patch in the London Avenue Canal into the surrounding Gentilly neighborhood. Some pumping stations were abandoned. By Saturday night, September 24, water from a 150-foot gap in the Industrial Canal levee flooded some areas of the Ninth Ward to eight feet deep. [http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/24/rita.assess/index.html CNN.com - Rita's impact, city by city - Sep 24, 2005 ] ] Damage in southwestern Louisiana was extensive. In Cameron Parish, the communities of Hackberry [http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/latimests/hackberrypopulationzero] , Cameron, Creole, Grand Chenier, Holly Beach, and Johnson Bayou were heavily damaged or entirely destroyed. A casino boat and several barges were floating loose in Lake Charles and damaged a bridge spanning Interstate 10 across the Calcasieu River. Lake Charles experienced severe flooding, with reports of water rising 6-8 feet in areas around Lake Calcasieu. At a hotel on the Contraband Bayou, water was reportedly up to the second floor. There was also extensive damage to its regional airport. Damage to the city's electrical system was so severe that authorities warned that power would not return for two weeks, if not longer.

In Vinton, several fires burned, the roof was torn off the town's recreation center and many homes were damaged by fallen trees. Widespread flooding was reported in coastal parishes. In Terrebonne Parish, virtually every levee was breached. [ [http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=3892692 Our Apologies ] ] Some people were stranded in flooded communities and had to be rescued by boat. At least 100 people were reported rescued from rooftops, as at least 25 more remained stranded. [ [http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=3893500 Our Apologies ] ]

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco reported that 700,000 homes lost power in 41 of the state's 64 parishes. [http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/09/24/news.update.sat/ CNN.com - The latest on Rita and Katrina - Sep 24, 2005 ] ]

In Vermilion Parish south of Abbeville, rescue efforts were undertaken for up to 1,000 people stranded by local flooding. On Saturday, September 24, 250 people were rescued.

After being reduced to a tropical storm, Rita entered DeSoto and Caddo Parishes, the eye passed just west of Downtown Shreveport before crossing the Arkansas border. At the height of the storm over 175,000 people had lost power in the National Weather Service Shreveport's forecast area, mainly across Deep East Texas into northwest Louisiana. Two fatalities occurred in the Ark-La-Tex. A tree fell on a person and the other fatality occurred when a teenager was electrocuted when picking up a "hot" power line. Shreveport recorded its 2nd lowest pressure ever recorded as the center of Rita moved through Shreveport around 6 pm Saturday evening. The pressure recorded was 29.05 inches (983.7 mb) which was only .01 inch higher than the lowest pressure on record of 29.04 inches back on February 27, 1902. [ [http://www.srh.noaa.gov/shv/Hurricane_Rita.htm WFO SHV - Hurricane Rita Archived Page ] ]

Mississippi

Several tornadoes from Rita's outer bands affected the state. At least 40 homes and an industrial plant were damaged and one person killed by a tornado in Humphreys County in central Mississippi. Another tornado (unconfirmed) was reported in Bolivar County.

One death was reported in Wilkinson County, although it has not been confirmed if it was storm-related.

A tornado touched down on Mississippi State University's campus. MSU officials reported significant damage to some buildings. There were also numerous mobile homes damaged at the University Hills trailer park just off the campus. There were several non-life threatening injuries.

Lauderdale County in east central Mississippi reported several confirmed and unconfirmed tornado touch downs in and near the cities of Marion and Meridian, an area recovering from damage from Category 2 winds in Hurricane Katrina.

Texas

On the morning of September 23, 23 people were killed when a bus carrying 45 nursing home evacuees from Brighton Gardens in Bellaire, Texas erupted into flames and exploded on Interstate 45 in Wilmer, southeast of Dallas. The fire started in the brake system, and the passengers' therapeutic oxygen tanks may have caused the bus to explode. [ [http://www.khou.com/news/state/stories/khou050923_mh_busfire.86061b26.html STATE NEWS | KHOU.com | News for Houston, Texas ] ] [ [http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?Category=23&ID=243743&r=0 cantonrep.com ] ] Many of the passengers were mobility-impaired making escape difficult or impossible. [ [http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/topfront/3367696 24 nursing home evacuees die in bus fire | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle ] ]

In the late evening, a fire broke out in the Strand District of Galveston, Texas, gutting several homes. However, the fire department was able to fight the wind-whipped blaze and prevent it from spreading through the city. No serious injuries were reported in the fire. Around midnight, a vacant restaurant collapsed nearby, which was reportedly as a result of the fire that weakened the walls. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/weather/stormcenter/2005-09-24-galveston-fire_x.htm USATODAY.com - Three buildings in historic Galveston district catch fire ] ]

For the most part, Houston escaped major damage, apart from extensive loss of power. Some windows blew out of some downtown skyscrapers, and some trees and signals were down. [ [http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou050924_mh_downtowndamage.8bdf5eae.html TOP STORIES | KHOU.com | News for Houston, Texas ] ] Thirty one deaths have been reported in Harris County, of which all of them were indirect (mostly related to the evacuation and cleanup). [http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/kprc/20050927/lo_kprc/2963330]

The county of Jasper, Texas was also greatly affected. It is located near the Sabine River, near the Louisiana and Texas border. Jasper, known as the "Jewel of the Forest" lost many of its pine trees when Rita came through, leveling most of them down to the stump. Jasper county residents were running out of gas and many relied on the only news available at the time from Mike Lout, local radio station owner, who stayed on the air during the entire time of the storm. Many families lost their homes of many years, returning to see that they were crushed by one or more trees.

North of Houston, the 2.5-mile-wide Lake Livingston dam sustained substantial damage from powerful waves driven by 117 mph winds [http://www.trinityra.org/Press%20Releases/about_press_09_26_05.htm] and officials started an emergency release of water to lessen pressure on the dam. A number of news outlets reported on Sunday, September 25 2005, that the discharge put lives at risk downstream and threatened a major bridge as well due to a sizable barge coming adrift. Repairs to the dam were expected to take months to complete. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4281518.stm BBC NEWS | Americas | Town faces up to Rita challenges ] ] After water levels were lowered and an inspection was conducted by national and local experts, the dam was declared stable late on Monday, September 26 2005. [ [http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20050926006153&newsLang=en Trinity River Authority of Texas: Hurricane Rita Damages Lake Livingston Dam ] ]

Communities in the "Golden Triangle" formed by Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange sustained enormous wind damage. Texas Governor Rick Perry declared a nine-county disaster area. In Beaumont an estimated 25% of the trees in the heavily wooded neighborhoods were uprooted. In Groves, the home of Texas's Pecan Festival, an equal number of the pecan trees were leveled. An enormous number of houses and businesses suffered extensive damage from wind and falling trees. The water treatment plant in Port Neches was heavily damaged. Some areas did not have power for more than six weeks.A mandatory evacuation had been issued before Rita's landfall. Those displaced by Rita were offered up to 60 days of hotel rooms, generators, chainsaws, and monetary assistance by FEMA. The "Golden Triangle" area was spared a more devastating storm surge by Rita's slight eastward turn just before landfall, which placed most of the coastal community to the left of the eye and in the storm's least-damaging quadrant. Rita's surge was contained by Port Arthur's extensive levee system. Bolivar Peninsula between Galveston and Sabine Pass experienced only a small storm surge, in contrast to areas east of Rita's center where a 20-foot surge struck Louisiana's unprotected towns.

Aftermath

Economic effects

The heavy concentration of oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico makes hurricanes of Rita's intensity very problematic. Currently, very little spare crude oil capacity exists in the United States, and the Gulf of Mexico produces some 2 million barrels per day (300 ML) total, as well as having some 30% of the total refining capacity of the United States. Rita's path traveled through a dense area of offshore pipelines and oil platforms, and on land to an area with large refineries. With over half of Gulf production still shut down in the wake of Katrina, some economists have stated that a worst case scenario is for gasoline prices to briefly touch $5/US gallon ($1.30/L), which would be easily the highest real price for gasoline paid in the United States during the internal combustion era. However the oil industry escaped essentially unscathed from the storm and post-storm predictions estimated only minor price rises. With some 200,000 jobless claims attributed to Katrina, Rita may have been a further drag on a weakened US economy.

The most pessimistic projections had GDP growth cut by 1% on an annualized basis in the United States in the second half of 2005, with as many as 500,000 people made unemployed. Some economists argued that the rebuilding effort could buoy the economy in 2006, while others argued that the energy spike could decrease consumer confidence by enough to send the economy into a full-fledged recession when combined with the Federal Reserve's recent increases in interest rates. While the above did happen, it did not occur until 2008, over a year after Rita's impact.

Due to the impending oil shortage and increasing gas prices, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared what he termed "snow days," closing all Georgia public primary and secondary schools on September 26 and 27 to conserve fuel for buses.

Military relief operations

On September 24 2005, following the havoc caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the National Guard named Brig. Gen. Douglas Pritt of the 41st Brigade Combat Team, Oregon Army National Guard, head of Joint Task Force Rita (formally called JTF Ponchartrain). [ [http://www.kgw.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D8CQSDL80.html AP Wire - Oregon | kgw.com | News for Oregon and SW Washington ] ] [ [http://www.katu.com/news/story.asp?ID=79878] Dead link|date=March 2008] The 1,400 Oregonian soldiers and airmen, including the 1st Battalion of the 186th Infantry which is designated a quick response unit, are joined by engineers and military police from Louisiana, a Stryker brigade from Pennsylvania, and an engineering battalion from Missouri. It is their mission to provide relief support for all of the areas in Texas and Louisiana affected by the two storms and to remove obstructions that might otherwise hinder help to those affected.

Post-Rita Deaths

Due largely to what many have called the largest two day evacuation in the country's history, many people died in the weeks following Rita's passing. The stress brought on by 98 degree heat in cars that were forced to turn off their air conditioners on the gridlocked highways was intense and the elderly in particular developed a large number of health problems in the weeks following the storm. For weeks funeral homes in the Beaumont area were unable to respond to the large number of requests by family members to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones to the north. These deaths are not currently counted as officially caused by the hurricane.

American Red Cross operations

The American Red Cross continued to provide disaster relief to Hurricane Katrina affected areas, but as a result of Hurricane Rita, had to open additional shelters in other gulf states. The Red Cross also expanded their Hurricane Katrina internet "Safe List" for use by those affected by Hurricane Rita.

AmeriCorps relief operations

AmeriCorps sent several crews to Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The crews originated from two main organizations, the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC), as well as from smaller Americorps organizations such as Americorps St. Louis' Emergency Response Team (ERT). The crews performed a number of relief tasks for hurricane survivors, including support on the FEMA/Carnival Cruise Lines shelter ship, tarping damaged roofs, and debris removal. As of the beginning of 2006, AmeriCorps teams have been involved in the rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. Teams have also operated volunteer camps like Camp Premier as well as assisted with the Made with Love cafe. As of May 2006, AmeriCorps reported that it would continue to send relief to affected areas.

Retirement

The name Rita was retired in the spring of 2006 and will never be used again for an Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced by Rina for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season's list. [" [http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2607.htm Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma "Retired" from List of Storm Names] ." "NOAA." March 25, 2006.]

Records

The use of the name "Rita" reflects the record-breaking activity of the 2005 hurricane season: only once before had a name starting with "R" (the seventeenth name in the list each season) been used for an Atlantic storm, in 1995 for Hurricane Roxanne. The formation of Rita actually marked the third time that seventeen storms had formed in a season since tropical storm naming began in 1950. However, in the 1969 season, under less-sophisticated forecasting systems, many tropical storms were not named; the seventeenth storm of 1969 was named Hurricane Martha.

Other records set by Rita:
* Earliest 17th named storm in Atlantic hurricane season
* Fourth most-intense storm in Atlantic basin
* Greatest one-hour pressure drop in Atlantic basin
* Most intense hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico (breaking record set by Hurricane Katrina only three weeks earlier)
* When Rita reached Category 5 strength on the 21st of September, it was the 3rd Category 5 hurricane that year, making 2005 the only year with more than two Category 5 hurricanes

See also

* List of tropical cyclones
* List of Atlantic hurricanes
* List of Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes
* List of 2005 Atlantic hurricane season storms
* FEMA Trailer

References

External links

Wikinewshas|related news
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* The NHC's [http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2005/refresh/RITA+shtml/ archive on Hurricane Rita]
* The HPC's [http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical2005/RITA/RITA_archive.shtml archive on Tropical Depression Rita]
* The HPC's [http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical/rain/rita2005.html rainfall page for Rita]
* [http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/site/news.asp?brd=2287&dept_id=587375 Hurricane Rita: from wreckage to rebirth] , from [http://www.beaumontenterprise.com The Beaumont Enterprise]
* [http://www.newsnow.co.uk/newsfeed/?name=Hurricane+Watch NewsNow.co.uk's Hurricane Watch newsfeed]
* [http://www.disastercenter.com/Tropical%20Storm%20-%20Hurricane%20-%20Rita.html The Disaster Center's Rita coverage]
* [http://hurricane.methaz.org/hurapak/ TAOS Autorun] - Real-time damage estimates
* [http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/hurricane/gas/ Hurricane Rita Supply Availability Map]
* [http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2005/9/20/144722/791 "The Oil Drum: Rita Resource Page for Oil and Natural Gas Infrastructure Damage"] The Oil Drum: Rita Oil and Gas Resources
* [http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2005/wrf.shtml Research Model Advances Hurricane Intensity Prediction]
* [http://www.mindfully.org/Air/2005/Cyclone-Increasing-Destructive4aug05.htm Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones]
* [http://sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5742/1844 Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment]
* [http://sciencemag.org/sciext/katrina/ Science Magazine Katrina/Rita page]
* [http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/archive/2005/storms/rita/rita-ir.avi Color Enhanced Infrared Satellite Video of Hurricane Rita]
* [http://www.hurricanearchive.org/ Hurricane Digital Memory Bank] Preserving the Stories of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma
* [http://www.workforcealliance.org/policy/WorkforceReDevelopmentintheGulfCoastFINAL.pdf Workforce Redevelopment in the Gulf Coast]
* [http://websearch.archive.org/katrina/ Hurricanes Katrina & Rita Web Archive]


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