Hurricane Rita makes landfall as a Cat 3

I woke up this morning and turned on the Weather Channel to find out the latest on Rita.  She’s been downgraded now to a Category 2 at 100 MPH, but obviously that is still very dangerous.  And as always with hurricanes, comes tornadoes and there are many watches/warnings blanketing Louisiana and the Eastern part of Texas.

As to where Rita made landfall:

Rita made landfall at 3:30 a.m. EDT as a Category 3 storm just east of Sabine Pass, on the Texas-Louisiana line, bringing a 20-foot storm surge and up to 25 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said. Within four hours it had weakened to a Category 2 storm, with top winds of 100 mph, as it moved further inland.

From what I’m seeing on the Weather Channel right now, Houston was spared the worst but some of the footage (and stories) coming out of Beaumont, TX from earlier in the morning show some majorly high winds (80MPH) and rain.

ST reader Tom Tyler, via the Houston Chronicle’s citizen journalist stormwatchers blog, reports the happenings in his neck of the woods – Dickenson Bayou, which is located in Galveston County in Texas, here and here.

Here is the latest satellite photo of Rita, as of 7:33 AM EDT.

The affected areas are just now beginning to see daylight and as soon as the storm passes, the damage assessments will begin.

A combination of heavy rains, which caused the levees to be over-topped, has inflicted more flooding in New Orleans, just days after many neighborhoods had been pumped dry.

Related: Stephen Spruiell at NRO’s Media Blog noted a reporter’s question to President Bush that will probably make you furious as well as laugh out loud:

Spruiell: After President Bush briefed reporters on his intention to visit the area affected by Hurricane Rita as soon as possible, one reporter yelled, "Sir, what good can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Might you get in the way?"

Bush, who had already started walking away, turned around:

BUSH: We’re going to make sure we’re not in the way of the operations. What I am going to do is observe the relationship between the state and local government.

Then a reporter (possibly the same one) yelled, "Well, critics are saying this is an overcompensation for the response to Katrina."

*SIGH*! Talking about getting criticized no matter what you do!

Hat tip: Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush, who points out in an updated story from the NYTimes, that the President has decided to cancel his visit to Texas and instead monitor the hurricane from a military facility in Colorado.  I’m sure he’ll be criticized for that, too.

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