Hurricane - Rita

Hurricane Rita weakened slightly to Category 4 status mid-day after having earlier packed 170-mph ( 274-kph) sustained winds as it swirled toward the Gulf of Mexico coast, prompting more than 1.3 million residents in Texas and Louisiana to flee in hopes of avoiding a deadly repeat of Katrina.

The storm is likely to come ashore as a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane, forecasters said.

Forecasters said Rita could be the strongest hurricane on record to ever hit Texas. Only three Category 5 hurricanes, the highest on the scale, are known to have hit the U.S. mainland -- most recently, Andrew, which smashed South Florida in 1992.

At 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) Thursday, Rita was centered about 490 miles (790 kilometers) east-southeast of Galveston and was moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph). Wind speed was 170 mph (274 kph), down slightly from 175 mph (282 kph) earlier in the day. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore along the central Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi. Rainfall from the storm could reach 15 inches (38 centimeters) in spots, the hurricane center said.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 70 miles (115 kilometers) from the center of the storm, and even a slight rightward turn could prove devastating to the fractured levees protecting New Orleans.

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Hurricane Center May Run Out of Names

Each year, 21 common names are reserved for Atlantic Basin hurricanes, with the list arranged alphabetically and skipping certain letters. Rita is the 17th named storm in the Atlantic Basin this year. There are only four left.

So what will officials do after tropical storm Wilma develops, assuming it does?

2005 Names List
1. Arlene
2. Bret
3. Cindy
4. Dennis
5. Emily
6. Franklin
7. Gert
8. Harvey
9. Irene
10. Jose
11. Katrina
12. Lee
13. Maria
14. Nate
15. Ophelia
16. Philippe
17. Rita
18. Stan
19. Tammy
20. Vince
21. Wilma
Twenty-one names are reserved each year (the letters q, u, x, y and z are not used), and the names are recycled every six years, minus those retired. When a name is retired, the World Meteorological Organization chooses a new name to replace it.
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maura96clare said...

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.Ben. said...

After they run out of this list, they jump to greek letters.