Florida Prepares for Rita

Not since 1995 has the letter 'R' been used for the name of a hurricane, but with Rita forming and becoming the 17th named storm of the year, 2005 is now the fifth most active hurricane season on record.

Hurricane records date back to 1851, and FSU professor Dr. Jim Elsner has charted each of their courses.

“Florida is completely covered in a map of all the storms historically. All of the other states you can recognize, but Florida, it's covered."

Not since 1995 has the R letter designated a storm name, and before that Elsner says, “I think we have to go back to 1933 when we had 21 storms before we had anything close to this activity."

And the reason for it?

"I think it's the warm waters in the Atlantic. They are unusually warm, and that generates lots of storms."

The state Emergency Operations Center is a beehive of activity as plans are made for rescue and supply operations for the Keys and south Florida.

On its current track, Rita has the potential to disrupt oil drilling operations in the gulf, and it will almost certainly disrupt oil and gas shipments in and out of Texas ports.

Gov. Jeb Bush says it's still important to conserve.

"If the storm is approaching and gasoline has to be diverted, we have to be managing that and be concerned about it."

As the 17th named storm approaches, there are still 73 days left in hurricane season, making it better than even that 2005 will break the record for hurricane activity.

While gas supplies are a concern a week or two out, the state currently has plenty of fuel in storage.


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