Keys residents: pack your bags

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:59 AM GMT on September 19, 2005

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Florida Keys residents should seriously consider evacuating tonight. While Rita is still a modest tropical storm, I don't like what I see at all from the latest hurricane hunter report. They found a fairly high pressure, 1004 mb, but flight level winds at 5000 feet were already up to 67 knots-- hurricane force--and a 40% complete eyewall has formed. While the odds are considerably against Rita becoming a Category 3 hurricane by the time it moves through the Keys, it is certainly possible. I'd give it a 10% chance of happening, and if I lived in the Keys, I wouldn't risk staying for that 10% chance. The sudden intensification is happening in the face of about 5 - 10 knots of shear, which one can see impacting the SW side of the storm on satellite imagery. The outflow at upper levels is resricted there, but looking VERY impressive on the north side. Rita seems intent on becoming a Category 1 hurricane Monday, and will probably be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane when it moves through the Keys Monday night. The Keys can handle a Category 2 hurricane--barely.

The Keys take a full 72 hours to evacuate, and now that New Orleans has been taken out by Katrina, the Keys represent the number one most vulnerable area in the U.S. for serious loss of life from a hurricane strike. Even though the evacuation order has already been given for visitors and tourists, not everyone will be able to make it out if Rita suddenly intensifies tomorrow to a Category 3 status.

The nighmare scenario is what happened during the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, which intensified from a tropical storm with 70 mph winds to a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds in just 42 hours as it approached the Keys. Over 400 Keys residents died in the ensuing disaster.

So, if I lived in the Keys, I would start packing my bags now. Hurricane intensity forecasts are not reliable. I would wait until 11:00 tonight and see what the Hurricane Center has to say, and if they also don't like the looks of this storm, I'd hit the road. If you decide not to go, be sure to take another look very early tomorrow morning, after the 5am advisory comes out, and be ready to hit the road early in the morning. Better to be horribly inconvenienced than dead.

Jeff Masters

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196. rbrown3rd
4:32 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Is it just me or are we now blocked from saving the animated gifs from the radar images at Wunderground? I used to be able to right click them and save them. Sure wish I could do that with the Key West loops.
195. LpAngelRob
2:05 PM GMT on September 19, 2005
Hmm.

Why isn't "We don't know where it's going in 5 days, just stayed tuned" a more refined, acceptable response instead of knee-jerking to "OMFG it's going to hit NOLA!@#$!@#"
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 41
194. southernskiesrnice
6:48 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
whitewabit - i am in Lafayette, LA, last hurricane to hit here was Lili in 2002. So BAMM is not accurate unless the storm is shallow? How do you determine if a storm is shallow? By the shallow water it travels in? or the deepness of the storm? I wish I understood more how they determine where these storms go, i know that the ridges and the fronts affect it. I looked at the Katrina models and they were way off until the storm was clear in the gulf. So I guess SWLA is still not in the clear.
193. billsfaninsofla
4:25 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Coconut..they finally woke up, I think they delay us so the Keys visitors can get out first....any problems with gas shortages your way? dang, my Publix just got restocked
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5247
192. whitewabit (Mod)
4:19 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
..............Hello All.............

I'm trying to get a location where all of our blogers live want to then make a directory that I will post on my blog
just looking for city (and maybe location in that city if it is large) and state..no other info needed or wanted..Thanks to all who will participate in this endevor..
tks...please make post on the first thread of my blog.
would like to include all that live outside of the states
also..will be interesting to see how wide spread our blogers are in the world..

please, if you can give the gift of life (blood),please contact your local Red Cross and make an appointment..the pint of blood you give my save 3 lives..and blood is really needed in the gulf coast..they lost their supply
of blood because of Katrina..and donors due to displacement..
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 357 Comments: 30125
191. billsfaninsofla
4:15 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
hurricane79.......I tried to send you an email don't know if you received.....gotta run now....maybe a LONG day tomorrow..not that today wasn't
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5247
190. TVwxman
4:06 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I gotta believe that the high pressure will keep it away from from the n gulf coast.
189. TVwxman
4:04 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Ultimately? It's so hard to tell. But if I were in Houston and anywhere south, I would be preparing for a major hurricane in 5 days.
188. UFGATORDON
4:02 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
To get to the new chat room, click on blogs at the top of this page then click on the box that says new feature Community Chat rooms on the upper right hand side of the next page then select tropics chat.
187. SWLAStormFanatic
4:01 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
So TVwxman, what's your take on the final destination of Rita?
186. prttyeyez2002
4:00 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Dr.Jeff Masters posted again....more elaborate...take a look....
185. TVwxman
3:58 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Link
Can you say consensus...
184. FLPanhandle
3:55 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Is it just me or does it look like the center is reforming to the southeast of where it was?
183. keeywester
3:54 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
how do I get to the chat room? I don't wee it anywhere
182. iyou
3:53 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
New blog folks! Conditions are somewhat altered...
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
181. TVwxman
3:53 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Man what a day...and what a season. I just got home from work and while there read a wire. If the season were to end today. It would be the 4th busiest on record! And we still officially have > 2 months left. Holy ****
179. hurricane79
3:51 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
New GFS is about the same at 48 hours out as it was earlier. However, the GFS is also taking Rita close to the Cuba Coast before moving WNW near Key West. So I am not sure to completely trust the GFS in the short term (<48 hours). The long term track with the GFS seems okay though.
178. UFGATORDON
3:49 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
When everyone gets a chance they need to check out the new Tropics Chat room it is much more User Freindly than this blog.
177. taco2me61
3:49 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
hey with all do respect I will not stay for any more...
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3167
176. subtropic
3:48 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
You are wise Taco.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
175. weatherwonderer
3:47 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Good for you Taco...hope everyone who is a possible landfall area is ready or leaving.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
174. 8888888889gg
3:46 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
i do not want to be up and down but could this be a cat 5
173. taco2me61
3:45 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Listen I was not going to wait untill it got to close for me to get ready for another one here so I already fueled up both trucks got my gas in cans and batteries...

Now I'm not saying it is going to hit here but you never know what they will do untill they hit land... on that note I say I'm ready...
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3167
172. Hawkeyewx
3:43 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
As we approach the blackout period, the blob of convection near/over the surface center of Rita is withering fast. Maybe this is just something that will last for only a couple hours and another blob will blow up overnight, or maybe that intense blob well east of the center is sucking up all the juice from the southeasterly inflow and it will take a bit longer for more deep convection to blow up over the center.

billsfan, thanks for the offer
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 1923
171. muffinanne
3:39 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I'm in Destin. Our local paper this am had an article about the flooding here should an 18 ft. storm surge hit us (kat was 25?) My house, one mile inland, would be flooded. I am now taking inventory of all of the contents in my home, and yesterday started pulling together all the precious items I'de like to take as well as the papers necessary should a storm like that hit us. This is a very sobering time. I have never felt this vunerable. But, life goes on and you have to be prepared and go when the time comes. It's a fact when you live on the coast. The people to my west are in devastation and I feel for them. It could have been me and it still could be me. Well, having said that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
170. leftyy420
3:34 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
no schools should not be cancelled and i have not shifted my track. once again the track shifted due to the cenetr reforming nothing else. the model spreads are not with the major modles thru 72 hrs. she will move thru the keys as a cat3
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
169. jhans624
3:33 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
what are the thoughts about the high over the gulf coast? will it hold or move out?
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 19
168. hurricane79
3:33 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Hurricaner4me, I would like to see that map once the 00Z runs come out on the GFDL, GFS and UKMET. Either we are seeing a Northward trend, or just a fluke. Those new models will help clear up the uncertainty
167. weatherwonderer
3:32 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I too am an amatuer, I had a couple of meterology classes in college but that was a while ago.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
166. miamihurricane12
3:32 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
the models have really spread out over the dayand the track has shifted north...with the current trend i do not know why they have not cancelled schools yet in miami...the weather is going to go downhill in the afternoon tomorrow and kids will be in school...lefty have you shifted your track further north and do u think that schools should be cancelled?
165. rescueguy
3:30 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
weatherwonderer , I think your right , looks like the track will probably shift more wnw as it gets closer to 20n if the ridge build east, which it looks like it is doing. Iam however an amateur and rely on others like Lefty,79, and others for their experience.
Member Since: September 12, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
164. Hurricanesr4me
3:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
163. hurricane79
3:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
sorry, GFS
162. hurricane79
3:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
From what I have been seeing and from what the NHC stated in its discussion about Rita, there will be some important model tracks coming out in the next 2 hours....GFA at midnight, and GFDL at 1:45AM
161. cornflake826
3:26 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
http://hurricane.methaz.org/hurapak/

pretty cool website. take a look at all models on rita...
160. weatherwonderer
3:23 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Exactly, Phillipe doesn't look like it is completely behaving the way it should. It looks like it moving more NW than NNW. Check out the RAMDIS water vapor loop. The ridge may move far enough East to bring it into the Eastern seaboard.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
159. SAINTHURRIFAN
3:20 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
miami you ought to know better people that went through katrina and are fascinated by tropis are going to talk about it kind of like when andrew hitsfla dont think hey forgot after 3wks?
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 706
158. rescueguy
3:20 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
weatherwonderer, the 11pm discussion on phillipe was pretty boring, read like they werent to sure about the ridge after the next 3 days or so. Maybe its just me, but I think we have to keep our eyes on it as well.
Member Since: September 12, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
157. CoconutCreekFLA
3:19 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Keywester. That's what insurance is for. On the news they said the roads were pretty empty tonight. I suspect they are going to be a mess tomorrow.
156. weatherwonderer
3:18 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
California your right, anybody in the keys SHOULD GET OUT. Material goods are only good if you are alive.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
155. subtropic
3:18 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
califonia. Wow. Very nicely said.
Member Since: August 29, 2002 Posts: 209 Comments: 4434
154. CoconutCreekFLA
3:18 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I know they say that you have higher winds the higher in a building you are. Does keywesters 3rd floor condo fall under this?
153. SAINTHURRIFAN
3:17 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
hey pascagoula vancleave here coast is a mess these guys on here just dont know unless they are here do they. pascagoula i dont know about you but all these folks homeless down here are refugees fromm somebody down here what you think.
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 706
152. StellarCyclone
3:17 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Prayers for all - I'm sure no one needs this storm. Hopefully it will not strengthen greatly.
151. Califonia
3:16 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
To Keewester (wants to wait until late tomorrow so the business can be boarded up) and others considering leaving:

Pilots, who are often faced with go/no go weather decisions, have a saying:

It is better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground.

Picture the following 3 scenarios:

1. You are in a motel inland somewhere and a) the storm went around and didn't hit the keys, or b) it hit the keys and you have sustained some business losses because you didn't board up.

2. You stayed, the storm surge has collapsed your condo and you are being swept out to sea with 120 mph blowing debris into your head and you know you are dead.

But your business is boarded up.

3. You boarded up the business and on the drive out your car has just been washed over the bridge and you are upside down underwater with maybe 3 minutes of air remaining.

But your business is boarded up.
150. CoconutCreekFLA
3:16 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I just watched both the cbs (norcross) and the nbc 6 coverage. I found it interesting that the nbc coverage just mentioned the TS warning for dade/broward while our buddy norcross said hurricane watch.
149. sebastianjer
3:16 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
UFGA- I agree
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 1030 Comments: 11197
148. weatherwonderer
3:15 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
miami I hope you appreciate that feelings are running high in issues right now. These will pan out, it is a learning experience for just about everyone. Considering where your at, I hope that these feeling won't be heading your way next.

We have been steadily blogging on Rita and keeping Phillipe in mind.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
147. PCBguy
3:15 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
The models are spreading out again. GFDL and UK take Rita to Texas, BAMD and BAMM take her to NO, and A98E and LBAR to the east coast of Florida. Obviously, the entire gulf coast from Texas to Florida needs to watch Rita closely.

Link
146. leftyy420
3:14 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
same thing as befor. cat3 over the keys
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.