Not Taking Any Chances This Time

A year ago, Floridians wouldn’t have batted an eye at Rita.

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But Hurricane Katrina changed everything.

Tourists were told to evacuate the lower Florida Keys on Sunday as a new tropical depression strengthened over the Bahamas and moved toward the vulnerable, low-lying island chain. A hurricane watch was posted for the entire Florida Keys.

“It does look like that there is the potential for it to become a hurricane, near or just before it reaches the Florida Keys,” said Daniel Brown, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

The watch means that hurricane conditions with sustained wind of at least 74 mph are possible by late Monday, according to the Miami-based hurricane center. If its sustained wind speed climbs to 39 mph, the depression would be named Tropical Storm Rita, the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Once it enters the gulf, that’s when it’s time to really pay attention.

Others: Rita Headed for the Florida Keys |

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