On the morning of September 24th, Hurricane Rita moved through the Pineywoods causing severe damage in many East Texas counties. Hurricane Rita was a category three hurricane at landfall near Cameron Parish, LA. Once over land, Rita was downgraded to a category one hurricane five miles east of Rockland, in Tyler County. Rita maintained hurricane status until reaching northwest portions of Louisiana.
Many counties were under a tornado warning for several hours as the eyewall pushed through the region. Jasper, Tyler, and Newton counties for instance had a tornado warning for four hours. No tornadoes have been confirmed.
The eyewall continued north through Sabine, Angelina, Nacogdoches, and San Augustine counties prompting more tornado warnings. One hour later, Rita continued the northward motion through Shelby and Panola counties.
Here is a chart from the National Weather Service office in Shreveport with the wind estimates.
Here is a list of the highest wind gusts in East Texas:
- Lake Livingston Dam: 117 mph (20 ft. above the surface)
- Sam Rayburn Reservoir: 100 mph (estimated)
- Center, TX: 85 mph (estimated)
Damage occured along Lake Livingston from a 1.5 ft. storm surge from the strong gusts. The dam required an emergency release from the lake to stabilize this problem.
The National Weather Service also provided another chart for rain totals:
Here is a list of the rain totals in East Texas:
- Broaddus: 10.27"
- Goodwin: 10.00"
- Milam: 6.25"
- Trinity: 6.25"
- Moffett: 5.50"
- Timpson: 5.20"
- Huntington: 5.18"
- Onalaska: 4.72"
- Kennard: 3.80"
- Friday: 3.78"
- Wells: 3.70"
- S.Rusk Co.: 3.60"
- Coldspring/Wolf Creek: 3.51"
- Point Blank: 3.19"
- Lake Livingston: 2.79"
- Weches: 2.49"
- Crockett: 2.00"
- Latexo: 1.78"
- Lovelady: 1.74"
- Grapeland: 1.64"
Both the Nacogdoches and Lufkin observations sites lost power during Rita, thus no observations were recorded. The NWS office in Shreveport estimates that Lufkin received 5.50 inches from Rita.
There were three fatalities contributed to Hurricane Rita. Two of the fatalities were from falling trees, one was from a downed live wire.
More updates to this story will continue as information is still slowly trickling in.