Rita is making landfall near Port Arthur, TX, as a weak Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. There is nothing weak at all about any major hurricane, and it definitely a bad night to be holed up in your house or shelter listening to the awesome destruction unleased by this powerful hurricane. Radar shows some very intense echoes in the northern eyewall smashing into the coast, and infrared satellite imagery confirms the presence of extremely cold cloud tops in the northern eyewall. It appears that the interaction of the eyewall with land is producing extra surface convergence of winds that is forcing up some strong updrafts, creating very high thunderstorm tops.
Where will Rita go?
Most of the latest model runs show Rita making a anti-cyclonic loop over northeastern Texas and central Louisiana, then perhaps heading back south to punish the landfall area five days from now. She may even move back over the waters of the Gulf. She would no longer be a tropical cyclone at that point, and redevelopment is not expected.
Elsewhere in the tropics
Tropical Depression Philippe has being absorbed into a large non-tropical low pressure system near Bermuda. This system is expected to move little the next three days, and may develop into a tropical depression. A well-organized tropical disturbance near 11N 33W, off the coast of Africa, has a surface circulation and some deep convection. This system has the potential for development the next few days as it moves westward over the mid-Atlantic. Long range models indicate that this disturbance will likely recurve to the northeast when it reaches the mid-Atlantic Ocean.