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Weather forecasters fear that this storm could attack the Gulf Coast with the fury of Katrina. Hurricanes generally get stronger when the water temperature is above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This map shows water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 18. Orange and red indicate water temperature above 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hurricane Katrina gained strength dramatically when it reached the Loop Current, which is a large ring of warmer water. The dots show the path and intensity of the storm, red marking the most intense spots.
Although the eye of Rita is predicted to stay southwest of New Orleans, a slight change of course could significantly add to the city's devastation. This photo of New Orleans was taken shortly after Katrina swamped the city.