Gulf coast researchers working in the path of incoming Hurricane Rita – featuring winds clocking in at well over 100 miles per hour -- began preparing for her arrival far in advance, destroying and freezing samples, ending experiments, and locking away dangerous and unique materials. Still, weeks or more of experiments could be lost, they say.

Stanley Lemon at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston told The Scientist that he and his colleagues began an "orderly process" of shutting down the labs on Monday (September 19). "We all know we live on a barrier island," he said. "UTMB has been planning for this." Still, he admitted that the last few days were less than enjoyable. "It's obviously very disruptive to have to terminate everything," he said, and he expects to be set back at least 10 to 14 days.

To prepare for the hurricane, Lemon and...

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