As Hurricane Rita came ashore near Beaumont, Texas, it wasdowngraded to a tropical storm and continues to weaken as itmoves inland. The system is moving slowly and is expected todump upwards of 10 inches of rain across east Texas andLouisiana, with 5 or more inches in New Orleans.Nevertheless, early damage assessments suggest that there isextensive wind damage in many coastal communities. NewOrleans’ stricken 9th Ward is once again under 8 feet ofwater.

The storm did not gain energy as it neared land, which hashappened with some hurricanes recently. Damage is stillbeing assessed in coastal communities where it hit as aCategory 3 hurricane, but it is not expected to be on thescale of the damage caused by Katrina.

The main problem is liable to be flooding inland, as thestorm contains a vast amount of moisture, and the NationalWeather Service has warned that up to 25 inches of raincould fall in some areas.

Be sure and listen toDreamlandthis weekend. Linda Howe leads off with a major report aboutwhy hurricanes are becoming so numerous and powerful. And if you want us to be here tomorrow, reporting on the next weather disaster, subscribe today.

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