At 330AM EDT this morning Hurricane Rita made landfall just east of Sabine Pass on the Texas/Louisiana border. Packing sustained winds of 120mph and an estimated pressure of 937mb, Rita was the 15th strongest hurricane ever to hit the United States.
Hurricanes are controlled by 'steering currents', winds in high levels of the atmosphere, and generally move storms from east to west at a fairly brisk pace; however, in Rita's case the steering currents are extremely weak and she is forecast to stall over the next 24-36 hours.
Rita could dump anywhere from 8 to 15 inches of rain over parts of Southeastern Texas and Southern Louisiana and there is a chance for flash flooding in many communities including Houston and Beaumont in Texas and Shreveport and Lake Charles in Louisana. Some locations could see 20-25 inches of rain.
As far as damage goes, there are numerous reports coming in. WHOU-TV is reporting that a hotel in Beaumont, TX had blown out windows and shards of glass and pieces of trees were strewn throughout the flooded lobby.
High winds ripped roofs off several buildings, including the police department in Woodville, in Tyler County, TX. The junior high school in Warren also lost its roof.
From WWL-TV: 6:05 A.M. - KIRBYVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A house with seven people trapped inside has floated off its foundation in floodwaters in Kirbyville, Texas, north of Beaumount. Jasper County Sheriff's communications supervisor Alice Duckworth says officials have no way to help them right now.
An estimated 90% of Jefferson County residents had evacuated because of the possibility that storm surge could submerge much of the low-lying county including the levee protected city of Port Arthur, very near where the eye hit.
Parts of New Orleans were underwater once again with some of the levees that had previously been patched were breached with floodwater pouring into the devastated 9th ward and just south of Lake Ponchartrain.
Over 750,000+ customers throughout the area are without power.
For more information about the impacts to the oil industry, check with Pannex Research: