The Category 4 hurricane was barreling northwest across the Gulf, with winds near 140 mph (220 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Rita was expected to make landfall late on Friday or early on Saturday but its destination was unclear.
The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."