LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - One of the most impactful hurricanes to ever affect the Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas coastlines made landfall eleven years ago.
It was on September 24, 2005 when Hurricane Rita came crashing ashore near Sabine Pass. It made landfall as a major, category three hurricane, with sustained winds on the order of 115 mph and a pressure of 937 millibars (mb).
It was the strongest hurricane to impact that area since Hurricane Audrey came ashore on June 27, 1957.
In looking back at Rita, there were a few things about this hurricane that left its footprint on East Texas.
First and foremost, because of its track, it had a direct impact on the Sabine National Forest, knocking down trees and power lines in areas from Hemphill to Jasper and over toward Newton. It was the far southeastern part of our KTRE viewing area that took it on the chin the hardest, since they were in the direct path of the storm.
Despite Hurricane Rita making landfall as a category three hurricane, it could have been much worse. Just three days prior to landfall, Rita reached a peak intensity of category five strength, the highest category possible on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
When she was in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on September 21st, she had winds of 180 mph and a surface pressure of 895 mb, which made it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Considering this took place a little less than a month removed from what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans and southern Mississippi, a majority of residents in East and Southeast Texas were on edge and filled with plenty of anxiety.
This created massive gridlock on the roadways in the greater Houston area. Two of the highways that were greatly impacted were Interstate 45 and Highway 59.
You may have recalled the massive backup and gridlock in Houston as residents in Southeast Texas were heading north, trying to get as far away from Rita as possible.
That heavy congestion reached up into Nacogdoches as traffic came to a standstill just before reaching south loop 224.
Fortunately for residents in Galveston and Houston, Rita took a right hand turn, sparing them from significant damage.