Louisiana and Texas officials have begun evacuating residents as forecasters say Hurricane Rita will likely hit the U.S. Gulf Coast later this week.
The National Hurricane Center in Florida Tuesday said the Category Two hurricane was located 80-kilometers south of Key West, Florida, and moving westward. Forecasters say Rita is expected to gain strength and could become a Category Four hurricane Wednesday - with winds up to 230-kilometers per hour.
Earlier, Hurricane Rita lashed the Florida Keys with heavy rain and winds up to 160-kilometers per hour. A hurricane warning remains in effect for south Florida and portions of Cuba. Forecasters say it is possible that Rita will strike areas along the Gulf Coast devastated three weeks ago by Hurricane Katrina.