Tropical depression eighteen formed just east of the Turks late on September 17th. This depression became the 17th named storm of the 2005 Atlantic season on Sunday September 18th in the Bahamas. Tropical Storm Rita became the ninth hurricane in the Atlantic Basin during the morning of September 20th. She intensified to a category 5 on Wednesday, September 21st. Her lowest pressure measured by Hurricane Hunters was 897 mb or 26.49 inches. This made her the 3rd most intense hurricane in terms of pressure in the Atlantic Basin behind hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the Labor Day hurricane in 1935. Hurricane Katrina only a month earlier had the distinction of being the 3rd most intense hurricane in terms of pressure. Hurricane Rita's top sustained winds were 175 mph. Thankfully, she did weaken somewhat before making landfall early Saturday morning (Sep 24th) near the Texas and Louisiana border near Sabine Pass with sustained winds of 120 mph (category 3). Due to the strength and speed of Rita, Inland Hurricane Warnings had to be issued as far north as the East Texas Lakes Region as well as Inland Tropical Storm Warnings for portions of east Texas and west central Louisiana.
Peak wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph occurred Saturday across extreme southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and the western sections of northeast Texas and also across all of northwest Louisiana and north central Louisiana as Rita pushed northward. Peak wind gusts were much greater closer to the remnant eyewall over deep east Texas with estimated gusts near 85 mph in Center, Texas, and also an unofficial wind gust of around 100 mph near Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Lower East Texas. Click here for a graphical map of the peak winds across the region. The most widespread structural damage occurred in Angelina and San Augustine counties, but widespread tree and power line damage was also reported in Angelina, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine and Shelby counties in Deep East Texas and in Sabine parish in west central Louisiana. In Angelina county alone approximately 50 to 75 homes and businesses suffered mostly minor structural damage from either high winds or fallen trees. The damage from Rita was not as extensive across the rest of northeast Texas and northern Louisiana, but still many trees and power lines were down due to the strong winds. At the height of the storm over 175,000 people had lost power in the NWS Shreveport's forecast area, mainly across Deep East Texas into northwest Louisiana. Two fatalities occurred in Angelina county. A tree fell on a person and the other fatality occurred when a teenager was electrocuted when picking up a "hot" power line.
Although Rita did not stall across east Texas, she still put down copious amounts of rainfall. Two to five inches of rain were common across the area, with 10.48 inches recorded at Center, Texas. Click here for an isohyetal rainfall map.
Shreveport recorded its 2nd lowest pressure ever recorded as the center of Rita moved through Shreveport around 6 pm Saturday evening on September 24, 2005. The pressure recorded was 29.05 inches (983.7 mb) which was only .01 inch higher than the lowest pressure on record of 29.04 inches back on February 27, 1902.