Hurricane Rita is bearing down…
The inner eye of the hurricane, was “just a few hours” from slamming into the coast, close to the state border, near the Sabine pass, said the US National Hurricane Center in its latest advisory issued at 0300 GMT.
But sheets of rain were already pounding the streets in coastal towns, as debris flew through the air on speeding gusts of wind, while green flashes of light tore into the night sky as electricity substations exploded in Beaumont, Texas, 18 miles (30 kilometers) in from the coast.
The National Weather Service has advisories for all the affected areas here: Hurricane Local Statements for RITA. Dallas/Fort Worth – Maximum sustanied winds are near 120 miles per hour … (195 kilometers per hour) with higher gusts. Rita is a dangerous Category Three Hurricane … little change in strength is expected prior to landfall,” the advisory said.
A spectacular fire of unknown origin broke out in Galveston’s historical center and quickly engulfed three buildings as firefighters struggled to put the blaze out in 60 mph winds. Burning cinders swirled across the sky and on to the firemen, forcing them to stay well back.
Firefighters doused the buildings with water as they struggled against the wind and rain, and conditions were expected to get far worse.
“We’re expecting winds of 100 miles an hour in 20 to 25 minutes. I recommend you get to shelter,” one Galveston police officer told a Reuters reporter as the fire raged.