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Rita's big and on the move

Rita Strengthens Into Category 2 Hurricane.

Hurricane Rita strengthened on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, heading on a path that may threaten the Texas coast and parts of Louisiana devastated by Katrina three weeks ago.

Rita, a so-called Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds, is moving south of the Florida Keys today into the warm waters of the Gulf, the National Hurricane Center said. It will gain power as it moves over the warm water, and will be a Category 3 storm with winds of at least 111 mph when it reaches the Texas coastline by the weekend, center meteorologist Chris Sisko said.

While Rita is forecast to come ashore anywhere from Corpus Christi to Galveston, there is a chance it may veer to the east and strike Louisiana’s coast, Sisko said. This threat to the coastal region already devastated by Hurricane Katrina prompted New Orleans’s mayor to suspend plans for residents to reenter the city and for officials in Texas to call for some evacuations.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding