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40,000 leave FL Keys

Some 40,000 people were evacuated from the lower Florida Keys Monday as Tropical Storm Rita drew closer.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIM0RE | September 19, 2005

Some 40,000 people were evacuated from the lower Florida Keys Monday as Tropical Storm Rita drew closer.

Rita could be a Category 1 hurricane by the time it passes to the south of the Keys on Monday. The islands could see anywhere from 6-15 inches of rain, forecasters said.

The storm could bring an 8-foot surge to the islands, forecasters said as hurricane warnings were posted. Florida declared a state of emergency.

There is little question among forecasters that Rita will enter the Gulf of Mexico. One five-day storm track put the storm near Texas. Most long-range forecasts showed Rita moving into the Gulf of Mexico late in the week as a hurricane, then possibly approaching Mexico or Texas. But there was a chance that Rita could make landfall anywhere between Mexico and the Florida Panhandle.

The Keys were under a hurricane warning, and Miami-Dade and Broward counties were under a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch. South Florida could see 3-5 inches of rain.

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Farther out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Philippe was churning about 385 miles east of the Leeward Islands and was moving to the north near 7 mph.


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More links on Tropical Storms

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