Rita Draws a Bead on Texas

“Potentially catastrophic” is how the National Hurricane Center describes Hurricane Rita as it heads for Texas.

The category five storm's sustained winds have only diminished a little bit in the most recent data, down to 170 miles-per-hour from 175. The storm is less than 500 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas.

A forecaster at the National Hurricane Center says Rita is “as strong as Katrina was at its height.”

Nearly a million and a half residents in Texas and Louisiana have evacuated and the government is moving emergency resources of all kinds into place ahead of the storm.

Texas officials say both sides of a major highway out of Houston are now limited to northbound traffic away from the coast. Houston's mayor says officials are considering a similar step on other highways.

In Texas, Galveston, Corpus Christi and the surrounding county and low-lying parts of Houston are under mandatory evacuation orders. In Louisiana, the few residents in New Orleans have been told to leave.