September 21, 2005

Category 4 -- Hurricane Rita

This is not good news.

Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 4 storm today with winds of 135 mph, deepening concerns that the storm could devastate coastal Texas and already-battered Louisiana by week's end.

Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for New Orleans and Galveston today, one day after Rita skirted past the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm, causing minimal damage.

I'm halfway between Galveston and Houston proper -- this is not good at all.

NOTE: The Houston Chronicle is operating two very good blogs dealing with Hurricane Rita -- Sci Guy and Huricane Rita. How long they reamin up is, of course,an open question, givent he coming of the storm and its intensity.

UPDATE DURING LUNCH (2;30 PM) -- In light of current projections, Paula, Carmie and I will pull the trigger at midnight, regardless of what is left undone. It is eight hours -- at least -- to Huntsville, and that is only about 100 miles from here. Hopefully traffic will thin out then, but who knows?, given the mandatory evacuations kicking in.

Traffic crawled along Houston's freeways today as officials ordered the mandatory evacuation of vulnerable areas in advance of Hurricane Rita, which was chugging toward the Gulf Coast as a dangerous Category 4 storm.

Mayor Bill White and County Judge Robert Eckels said today that some mandatory evacuations would begin at 6 p.m. They encouraged residents to leave voluntarily if possible before the evacuations become mandatory, and it was clear that thousands of residents were heeding the advice.

Traffic was especially heavy on the south end of Interstate 45, the main evacuation route from Galveston and the Clear Lake area, moving somewhat faster north of Loop 610. Speeds averaged about 20 mph on I-45 through Houston.

Although evacuees departing during rush hour this morning reported arriving in Dallas in the usual five hours, as of 1:30 p.m., it was taking at least two hours just to get from Galveston to Houston on I-45, AAA reported.

One reason so many residents were trying to get out of town before they had to: Once a mandatory evacuation begins, residents will no longer get to choose their own evacuation routes. Roads will be blocked off to funnel traffic to evacuation shelters in designated cities further inland according to a resident's zone.

Michelle Malkin has a good piece on some differences from Katrina.

|| Greg, 07:18 AM || Permalink || Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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My brother is in League City. His wife and kids are on their way to our house in Austin as I type this.

My brother is a full-time, active duty Sgt. in the US Army (he commands a recruiting station near League City). He has not been given orders yet from his chain of command properly relieving him of his post (1st General Order). In the meantime, he's at home boarding up his windows, and helping the other soldiers under his command board up their's.

Meanwhile, my sister (who is also named Rita, after my mother Rita) is on her way from Houston (Medical Center). She says she has been driving for nearly 2 hours and has made it from her house to Katy. She said traffic is at a stand still.

Good luck to you and be carefull!

|| Posted by Robbie, September 21, 2005 10:44 AM ||

Good luck! And it's now a Cat 5 hurricane @165mph! With signs of more strengthening, too.

Is 100 miles inland enough??

|| Posted by mcconnell, September 21, 2005 06:01 PM ||
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