Keys residents: get out tonight, or wake up early Monday

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:48 AM GMT on September 19, 2005

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Florida Keys residents should seriously consider evacuating tonight. If you decide not to, check on Rita's forecasted strength early Monday morning, after the 5am NHC advisory is out. Think about evacuating then.

After reading the 11pm NHC discussion, which reported that the 67 knot winds measured by the Hurricane Hunters was not representative of the general winds in Rita, I am a little less concerned that Rita will intensify to a major Category 3 hurricane as it passes through the Keys Monday night or Tuesday morning. Also, the cloud tops in Rita have warmed a bit in the past few hours, and it appears that Rita is taking a breather from her recent intensification burst.

Still, I don't like what I see. The hurricane hunters found a 40% complete eyewall has formed. The upper level outflow is excellent on the north side, and the storm is over warm 30 - 31C water. I'd give it a 5% chance that Rita will be a Category 3 hurricane passing through the Keys. If I lived in the Keys, I would think real hard about leaving, just in case that 5% chance verifies. The sudden intensification tonight happened the face of about 10 knots of shear, which one can see impacting the SW side of the storm on satellite imagery. If the shear goes to less than 5 knots, which is expected to happen by Tuesday, Rita will intensify very rapidly. Rita 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 you live in the Keys, get your bag packed. Wake up early tomorrow, and check out the 5am advisory. If Rita is a hurricane by then, consider hitting the road early. But if the roads are totally jammed, it's probably better to ride it out in a sturdy shelter rather than be caught on the 7-Mile Bridge in a hurricane.

While the Keys are likely to escape with a hard but bearable hit from a strengthening Category 1 or 2 hurricane, the Gulf Coast will not be so lucky. There is nothing in the long-range forecast that I can see that will prevent Rita from intensifying into a Category 3 or stronger hurricane. The entire stretch of coast from 500 miles south of Brownsville, Texas to New Orleans is at risk--no one can say with any confidence where Rita will hit this far in advance. Texas is at the highest risk, though, and needs to watch Rita the most carefully.

Philippe
As for Philippe--which is now a hurricane--we do not need to be concerned with him for at least five days, and probably never. The odds are over 90% that Phillipe will stay out to sea and not affect any land areas except Bermuda.

Jeff Masters

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296. StormJunkie
11:35 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
That new GFDL stinks!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15472
295. DisasterSearch
10:18 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Cat 1 possibly 2 at landfall in the Keys then off to Mexico
294. leftyy420
9:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
also getreal the dry air is moving west and out of the gulf. just checked the wv loop. that dry air won't be there good night
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
293. GetReal
9:27 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Catch y'all later going to shut eye now.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
292. leftyy420
9:27 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
getreal yes she did. there was tons of dry air. go find some old wv loops. also dry air won't hurt a cat 3 storm from itensifying if it has a anticyclone over it. but we will see. i am telling u though. this storm will be bad real bad and i see ehr blowing up not as big or strong as katrina but don't sleep on her
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
291. leftyy420
9:25 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
yeah guy will have to see what the other models say in the next few runs on philippe. catch u tomm
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
290. GetReal
9:24 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Katria did not have to fend off this much dry air in the Gulf of Mexico that Rita is moving into.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
289. guygee
9:23 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Lefty- The site went down but not before I got a peek. I was wondering if Philippe would make it through that weakness in the ridge. Scary thought that it could turn west. He is going to be a monster if that happens.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3059
288. leftyy420
9:22 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
wel boysbed time. se is blowngup nicely catch u guys tomm
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
287. leftyy420
9:20 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
getreal a major cane develops a anticylone that will help prevent the dry4 air intrusion. i feel a cat 4 at the second landfall is a safe bet specially since i call fo a cat 3 over the keys. still don't see the models being off so ar and i see texas as the threat but we will see. also remebr that dry air that was all around katrina. just reminding you getreal :-)
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
286. GetReal
9:17 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
IN MY OPINION: Rita will strike the Florida Keys as a Cat 2 hurricane and enter the Gulf of Mexico just north or over Key West.
Rita will then continue west or slightly south of west into the south central Gulf of Mexico on a coarse very similar to Katrina. Rita will then turn nw into the weakening ridge to near 91 or 92 degrees west then turn north striking the central or se La coast as a cat 3, depending where the turn north occurs. Rita will be inhibited from gaining Cat 4 on second landfall by entrained dry continental air as she approaches the coast.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
285. leftyy420
9:15 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
lol hey crow. i am about to turn in and ur getting up. thats funny
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
284. crow
9:13 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Just checkin the blog and appreciate all on watch. I also appreciate the work here on site. Young folks got it going.

TY! Coffees done! i'd share it if I could.

the old crow
283. leftyy420
9:13 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
lol guye i undrstood. if u look at my posts i do much worse lol
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
282. leftyy420
9:12 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
guygee cick my link i just posted check that out. dubt it ould happen but check itout
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
281. guygee
9:12 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
heh I am a crappy typist. meant to adresss Lefty
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3059
280. guygee
9:11 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Left you are right, what I earlier thought was the center in the loops was some strong convection turning north of the center. Until an eye clears out or we get her on radar it can be hard to tell ssometimes from the loops with much precision.

She is really wrapping up now, the first concern is for everyone in the Keys to get out or if not possible find safety and batten down tight.
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3059
279. leftyy420
9:09 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
u guys need to see the latest canadian model run. it blows uprita like i said but i turns philippe west as far as the same path as rita and forms another storm that moves north now


Link
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
278. leftyy420
9:07 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
guygee if u check the past runs only the gfdl and gfs showed a turn to the nw or north by day 5 now all major modelsshow it and are in good agreement thru days 5. doubt we will seemuch more of a shift as this is not a ophelia situation with weak steering currents
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
277. leftyy420
9:05 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
guygee they were refering to the quick north turn all major models now show. a landfall in texas is the most likley scenario right but we need to watch more model runs. the point we need to watch is a strong cat 2 or cat 3 will be smacking the keys in 48 hours orso. thats not good at all
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
276. guygee
9:01 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
That new discussion sounds ominous for a few days out: "significant shift in the guidance late in the forecast period" (??)

Could we be looking at complete recurvature after she sits over the steaming GUlf waters for a few days?
Member Since: September 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3059
275. boiredfish
9:01 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
No, on Galv. Bay.....but working graveyards right now and don't want to wait till everyone's out trying to prepare.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
274. leftyy420
8:59 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
are u in the keys?
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
273. boiredfish
8:59 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Guess I'll go gas up the truck,get water, batteries, etc. today after I sleep just in case and just to beat the rush....
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
272. leftyy420
8:55 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
nhc now bring her to 110 mph or so as she passes the keys. thats 5mph slower than a cat 3 and the error is 25 mph or a full category so she could be a strong cat2 thru a weak cat 4. they keep nudging up the intesnity every advisory. i am teliing you a cat3 at landfall is looking pretty much on point and thats still less tha the gfdl calling for close to a cat 4 or weak cat 4 over the keys. we will see explosive development today. the scary kind we saw with katrina and alot of people in the keys will get caught off guard
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
271. GetReal
8:53 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I've got it now.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
270. leftyy420
8:52 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
get real the ukmet nogaps and gfdl not make that right turn to the north more sharply than they did in the last runs. thats why there is a good agreemnt in 5 days. the nhc is still not convinced that the ridge will weaken that quickly so they only shifted 120 hrs 12onm and still left of the model guidance
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
269. leftyy420
8:51 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
new recon out. pressure down 1 mb to 998


URNT12 KNHC 190843
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE
A. 19/08:26:40Z
B. 22 deg 38 min N
074 deg 15 min W
C. 850 mb 1413 m
D. NA kt
E. NA deg nm
F. 306 deg 041 kt
G. 207 deg 021 nm
H. 998 mb
I. 15 C/ 1528 m
J. 18 C/ 1526 m
K. 18 C/ NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345/ 8
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF300 0318A RITA OB 12
MAX FL WIND 57 KT NW QUAD 07:08:30 Z
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
268. GetReal
8:48 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Seriously leftyy I can't get to the latest models that last bulletin refers to that have shifted guidance late in the forecast period significantly right. What is he refering to in the advisory??
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
267. leftyy420
8:43 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
track is due west and they keep nudging that inensity up thru 48 hrs. that cat 3 over the keys looking betetr and better
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
266. GetReal
8:42 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Rita currently has plenty of cold cloud tops, but is looking a little ragged right now due to some southerly shear possibly. Rita also appears to continuing on wnw track for now.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
265. miamihurricane12
8:40 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Tropical Storm Rita Discussion Number 6


Statement as of 5:00 am EDT on September 19, 2005



the new reconaissance aircraft in the system at 07z found that the
pressure had fallen to 999 mb...and first satellite images after
the eclipse show that convection is now wrapping around to the
northwest of the center and has taken a more banded appearance. A
dropsonde in the northwest quadrant had 44 kt at the surface...with
flight level winds in this quadrant of 57 kt. The northeast
quadrant has not yet been sampled...and I presume that higher winds
will be found there during the next hour or so. The initial
intensity is increased to 50 kt.
The last two aircraft fixes indicate an almost due west motion...but
with all the center reformations that have occurred it is difficult
to ascertain a representative motion. My best judgement is 280/8.
Rita has already passed the longitude of the break in the
subtropical ridge...and will come under increasing pressure to have
the track nudge to the left. Furthermore...now that the convection
is becoming a little more symmetric...there should be less
likelihood of additional northward reformations of the center.
Model guidance adjusted to the current location is very tightly
clustered on a path through the Florida Straits south of Key
West...and I have adjusted the official forecast slightly south of
the previous advisory. There has been a fairly significant shift
in the guidance late in the forecast period...with the global
models abruptly weakening the mid-level high over the western Gulf
and allowing Rita to begin a sharper recurvature track. While I
have adjusted the 120-hr point about 120 nm north of the previous
advisory...I am still well to the left of most of the 120-hr
guidance.
Water vapor imagery shows that the upper-level low in the northwest
Caribbean is shifting eastward...and as it does so the southerly
shear over Rita will continue to decrease. This should allow for a
faster development rate. The official forecast is very close to
the SHIPS guidance.

Forecaster Franklin


forecast positions and Max winds

initial 19/0900z 22.7n 74.3w 50 kt
12hr VT 19/1800z 23.1n 76.0w 60 kt
24hr VT 20/0600z 23.6n 78.5w 70 kt
36hr VT 20/1800z 24.0n 81.2w 80 kt
48hr VT 21/0600z 24.2n 84.0w 90 kt
72hr VT 22/0600z 24.5n 88.5w 100 kt
96hr VT 23/0600z 25.5n 92.5w 100 kt
120hr VT 24/0600z 27.5n 96.0w 95 kt


$$




264. ed2800
8:39 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
i would never ride out a cat 3 in our condo..Phoenix condos in Gulf shores orange beach were not damaged as much as others..water damage in basement was main problem..
263. GetReal
8:35 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
I visited the condos I've stayed at in Navarre Beach, prior to Ivan, in July. They were modern large structures, and they were ripped apart by wind damage. The large sliding glass doors and Picture window glasses were broken by the force of the wind. NOT A GOOD PLACE TO RIDE OUT A CAT 3 OR BETTER CANE.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
262. Selu
8:32 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
We've had tremendous damage here. Still trying to recuperate. Just got power back on. Water, we still have to boil.

I can't go through the terror of that experience again. Next time, I'm evacuating to Wyoming! :-)
Member Since: February 5, 2004 Posts: 7 Comments: 312
261. leftyy420
8:32 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
yeah bek katrina made me hold the gfdl as a better model. it forcasted the sw jog and the explosive development just like it is doing with rita. thats why i call for a cat 3 because of the gfdl
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
260. GetReal
8:31 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
SELA check back on Tuesday morning better idea of coarse then.
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
259. THEMUFFINMAN
8:31 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
gave me nice laughts though ok im done
258. wxwatcher
8:31 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
getreal, I actually stayed in two of the condos at Gulf Shores (the first time was when Danny came through in '97 I think it was). Danny ripped the side of the condo off next to Pelican Pointe (I was in PP). It was a rush no doubt, but the condo we have in Tx is constructed a little different. It's a brick outside skin (rather than siding), and a solid concrete skeleton. It's also a "V" shape with the cone or tip facing the ocean to 'cut' the wind. When I saw the pictures from MS of brick homes crumpled, I'm starting to lose confidence in this structure...
257. iyou
8:30 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
What -e -ver Jeff!!
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
256. leftyy420
8:30 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
selu there is no way to say it won't or it will till she gets in the gulf
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
255. ed2800
8:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
wxwatcher...Our condo in orange beach al..first floor was built to give way. Most damage was on first floor, basement..10th floor condo was fine except for some balcony sliding doors had water blowby. all units were in good shape in 3 months. this was east eyewall of ivan.
254. leftyy420
8:29 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
wx i would be worried about surge but i think if its a solid structure it would be ok. now if its just you or if it was juts me i would ride ehr out, cat 4 at most lol but if there is kids or a wife involved u evac man.


i live in va so i drove 4 hrs down there and met up with someone fromthis blog. was an awsome time
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
253. THEMUFFINMAN
8:28 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
yeah your welcome ill bet thats your butt huh lol
252. Selu
8:28 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Hi everyone. Our town was devastated by Katrina, and we are 60 miles north of Pontchartrain. We had 110 mph sustained winds, with gusts of over 150 recorded.

Having said that, will someone please assure me that there is no way that Rita will follow Katrina's path?
Member Since: February 5, 2004 Posts: 7 Comments: 312
251. bekroweather
8:27 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
The GFDL was good with Katrina but we did not have a model agreement 5 days before the landfall.

Not that the models will not move the next few runs... I just think that they will deviate less than in the case of Katrina where most of them jumped from the Florida Panhandle to NO 72 hours before landfall.
250. iyou
8:27 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Thanks again Jeff!!
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
249. GetReal
8:26 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Hey wxwatcher go check out the photos of the condos at Gulf Shores and Navarre Beach. That's your answer. NOT VERY WELL!!!
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8802
248. THEMUFFINMAN
8:25 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
oh iyou i dont see you down there huh adn im too young to do that so there dont go doing stuff and me and leftyy are cool again it was all a joke but really laughed at the last one lol
247. iyou
8:24 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Thank-you jeff! Don't forget there are Canadians down there
helping your fellow Americans in those areas affected by Katrina!!
Member Since: July 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5219
246. wxwatcher
8:23 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Hey lefty, that's pretty cool riding out a hurricane (I guess). How do you think a concrete, 10 story condo structure would hold up in a cat 3? It is approx 100ft from the beach facing the Gulf and we really have no idea how it would hold up as it has never been exposed to a tropical storm, much less a hurricane...

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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.

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