Rita upgraded to hurricane

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:06 PM GMT on September 20, 2005

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Rita was upgraded to a hurricane with a special 9:15 am advisory. The 9:15am EDT hurricane hunter mission found winds at 5000 feet of 78 knots (90 mph), which corresponds to surface winds of minimal hurricane force (74 mph).The central pressure was 982 mb, down 3 mb in the past 1 1/2 hours. The Key West radar loop is most impressive the past three hours, showing a transformation from a disorganized, elliptical system to a more circular storm with much more intense spiral banding. An large eye with a 35 mile diameter has formed, but is still organizing and has gaps. Infrared sateliite images now show a warm spot where the eye is forming.



Here are the peak wind gusts as of 11:00 am EDT from Rita:

53 mph at Marathon Airport
50 mph at Key West International Airport
58 mph at Molasses Reef light
48 mph at Long Key light
72 mph at Sombrero Key light
47 mph at Sand Key light
38 mph at Dry Tortugas light

Sustained tropical force winds of 40 mph or higher will spread over the entire Keys chain this morning, extending as far north as Miami. The eye of Rita is shrinking, and the northern eyewall will pass over or just south of the lower Keys and Key West between noon and 3 pm today. Sustained winds of 70 - 80 mph and gusts of 100 mph will accompany passage of the northern eyewall. If the eyewall misses to the south, the lower Keys will escape with sustained winds of 50 - 60 mph and gusts to 85 mph. A storm surge of 5 - 7 feet will accompany the arrival of the eyewall, flooding parts of the coastal highway and low-lying areas. Moderate roof damage and extensive damage to mobile homes is also expected in the lower Keys.

Rita in the Gulf
Once Rita emerges into the Gulf of Mexico this afternoon, continued strengthening is expected--but not explosive deepening. The center of the upper-level high that Rita needs to carry away all the air her eyewall convection is injecting into the upper atmosphere is located to the east of her, and thus the outflow over Rita is poor in some areas, particularly the south side. This situation is predicted to improve some and allow Rita to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane by Thursday. Water temperatures over the middle of the Gulf of Mexico are 1 - 2C cooler than those near Key West, thanks to all the cold water stirred up by Katrina. This may keep Rita as a strong Category 2 hurricane. Once Rita approaches the coast of Texas, the cold water wake of Katrina ends and water temperatures warm up again, which may allow some more intensification. Rita is not expected to reach Category 4 status.


Figure 2.Sea Surface temperatures for Sunday, September 18. Note the cooler wake in the center of the Gulf left by Katrina.

Threat to Louisiana fades
Last night, the NOAA jet flew its first mission into Rita, and collected high-density data used to initialize last night's computer model runs. The models are more tightly clustered than before, and now all the models point to a landfall in Texas Saturday, somewhere between Brownsville and Galveston. She is expected to be a Category 2 or 3 at landfall. Western Louisiana is still at high risk, but New Orleans will miss this hurricane. However, if Rita makes landfall in western Louisiana, she may push 1 - 2 feet of storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. This could cause problems with the weakened New Orleans levee system and possibly destroy the temporary patches that were installed, allowing the areas of the city that are starting to drain to flood once more.

Philippe
Philippe is slowly strengthening but heading northward out to sea. Philippe will continue to strengthen and head north, and is not expected to affect any land areas, including Bermuda.

Wave between Africa and the Antilles
A large low pressure system is halfway between Africa and the Antilles islands. While this system does have a surface circulation and considerable deep convection, 15-20 knots of upper-level wind shear will keep this system from developing into a tropical depression. Later in the week, the shear over the central Atlantic is expected to decrease, and we could see another tropical storm form in this region, but probably not from the current area of disturbed weather mentioned above.

Jeff Masters

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323. wjdow
1:08 AM GMT on September 21, 2005
i spoke with a galveston army corps of engineers rep yesterday - their projection is that if katrina had hit galveston, the island would have been under 16 feet of water. i asked about potential flooding because my in-laws are there. i am leaving tonight from san antonio to help them pack & leave tomorrow
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 156
322. boiredfish
11:29 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
I've resigned myself to the fact we're gonna get blown off the face of the earth after reading y'alls posts..............lolol........hopefully I'll be in the stands at Kyle Field Saturday to cheer on the Ags...........if not.......it's just a hurricane............lololol
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
321. boiredfish
10:02 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
STORMTOP.....ever been through a storm in Texas before?
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
320. boiredfish
10:00 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Galv./Houston area is much better prepared for a large storm....even with all the refugees...............yes, refugees.........PC be damned.......even a major cat. 3 strike would be nothing like NOLA.....
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
319. boiredfish
9:58 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
StormTop.....too much latent heat removed from the gulf from Katrina........too late in the year........cold front (trough) coming down.......will produce some shear.......cat. 2/weak 3 at the best....along the lines of Alicia at the worst.....

damn doomsday sayers......
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 442
318. BigM
5:29 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
these are words i dont want to hear from lefty, wp, storm....
317. STORMTOP
5:27 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
not good at all for the texas coast to hear that this early...now you have to wonder will this take in as much area as katrina did...this could really be devastating for texas...galveston i would not stay to much longer...
316. wpb05
5:22 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
she could have closed that eye 24 hours ago..if that had happened, oh boy
315. BlueWatch
5:21 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Dr. masters has a new thread...
314. weatherwannabe
5:21 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
wp, visible sat is more imoressive than radar sig.
313. SaCaCh
5:21 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
000
WTNT63 KNHC 201711
TCUAT3
HURRICANE RITA TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
115 PM EDT TUE SEP 20 2005

DATA FROM A NOAA PLANE INDICATE THAT RITA HAS REACHED 100 MH WINDS
AND IS NOW A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR/SIMPSON HURRICANE
SCALE. THIS WILL BE REFLECTED IN A SPECIAL ADVISORY AT 2 PM EDT.

FORECASTER AVILA
312. raindancer
5:20 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Masters has a new update...
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
311. weatherwannabe
5:20 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
I beleive my forecast for stong strengthening cat 2 or weak cat 3 will be correct.
310. leftyy420
5:20 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
wp could u imagine how strong she would have been if she had got her core togetehr yesterday

man that grotto is good
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
309. STORMTOP
5:20 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
im with you on that raindancer..he will be there lickity split...watch the difference..
308. wpb05
5:20 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
i think the impressive part is she still looks somehwat unorgazied, and she still has managed to hit cat. 2
307. wpb05
5:19 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
yes lefty you just might...if she can wrap around
306. weatherwannabe
5:18 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
At this rate of intensification she could be cat 3 in less than 1.5 hours
305. raindancer
5:17 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Reckon' Bush will be a bit more responsive when Rita comes into his own state?
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
304. leftyy420
5:17 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
wp, couple more hours befor she [asses the keys i might still get that cat 3 lol
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
303. STORMTOP
5:15 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
wannabee i think it has the potential of a cat 5 but i think it all depends on how fast RITA moves as she enters the gulf..i would think RITA would be more of a strong cat 4 with winds at 145mph.....
302. weatherwannabe
5:15 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
that was quick - 3 hours from TS to Cat 2
301. wpb05
5:14 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
cat. 2...100 mph winds now
300. ohioskywarn
5:13 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
100 mph cat 2 cbs4.com
299. leftyy420
5:13 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
cat2 per cbs
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
298. weatherwannabe
5:10 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
A very well defined eye is now visible on the sat.
297. wpb05
5:10 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
she is starting to wrap around now and getting her act together pretty good
296. weatherguy03
5:09 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
looking at the radar...Link..northern eyewall still open..key west getting lucky again...
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
295. weatherwannabe
5:09 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
STORMTOP do you think the gulf heat potential is capable of sustaining a Cat 5?
294. STORMTOP
5:08 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
wannabee i wouldnt be surprised to see the pressure at 920mb when it hits the upper texas coast on friday night....this is growing in size and intensity...this could be katrina all over again for texas...
293. oriondarkwood
5:07 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
SirVivor,

I know that lesson very well, if not rest assure we would not be having this conversation. I should been dead from my own stupidity many times over. Let's just say that hurricane party was the safest of my youthful stupidity.

Big hint, They did cystal balls for each senior in high school (ie what would they be doing in 20 years). Mine was I would become the first person to build a homemade nuclear device without using radioactive material.
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
292. raindancer
5:07 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Yeah - still Cat 1... Might have a chance of making Cat 2 just as the eye starts moving away from Key West. Then it's all out to the fishes for a few days.
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
291. weatherwannabe
5:06 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Norquist thinks it will be cat 2 when she passes Key West
290. weatherwannabe
5:05 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Pressure just reoprted by Norquist at 978 - pressure is still falling
289. wpb05
5:05 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
pressure down to 978.......winds in NE quad at the surface 86 mph
288. raindancer
5:04 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Miami CBS still saying just a Cat 1 per recon flights...
Member Since: September 14, 2001 Posts: 0 Comments: 79
287. SirVivor
5:02 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Well Gang,
I gotta run for now. Got a ton of things to do before I run out of energy. Which doesn't take long when yu have lupus. LOL! Stay safe, guys, and if you need to evacuate, get out early.
286. SirVivor
4:58 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Orion,
We all do things when we are young and think we are invincable taht we are amazed that we lived to tell about. It is part of learning. Fortunately, most of us survive our own stupidity and learn from it. It's the ones who don't learn from it that scare you! LOL! I'm not saying you are or were stupid...please don't take offense...just trying to say that getting drunk when you need your wits about you is not smart. Glad you survived your hurricane party of your youth and are here to laugh about it in hindsight.
285. leftyy420
4:57 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
streaming video out of miami love coverage of keywest


Link
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
284. weatherguy03
4:56 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
More model stuff...Link..Awaiting the rest of the 12Z models...
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
283. crow
4:55 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
lefty 420

I am leaving for LA area on border and gettin a Bro out. Borrowed a laptop. Stay busy BRO!

need Ya
282. SirVivor
4:54 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
I hear you Corpus. In that case, I don't blame you. Get to safety and hunker down. You know the drill, get out early before the gas dries up and the rodas get too clogged. Stay safe. All the same, I'll bet your house fares well in the storm....but it is best to get your family to safety. Your hubby doens't need the stress, nor do you and the kids.
281. weatherguy03
4:54 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Latest 12Z GFS out...Link... Alittle harder turn north..near Houston again...
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29708
280. stormydee
4:53 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
I knew Rita wouldn't like Cuba, seems to be tearing the south side up and wrapping drier air around the east side, even though the eyewall is stronger on the south right now...it may even scoot her a .1 -.5 degrees north from the way the radar is looking, but I doubt it will affect its longterm forecast, just bring it closer to Key West unfortunately....
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 39 Comments: 517
279. oriondarkwood
4:53 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
SirVivor,

Been to a hurricane party once in my life, we snuck past the police roadblocks back to a friend's house that lived 5 miles off the beach (this was in NC). With a Cat2 coming onshore we started to drink with loud music (about suprised the cops didn't see us or hear us). The rain starting coming down and the wind picked up. We decided to tie a rope to his flagpole, put on a pair of skis and go wind skiing, it was fun till the wind ripped this one girl's shirt off (i would add a few comments but not here) then we started getting a little scared. We decided it was time to come in.. then the wind really picked up and the house started creakin about the time we ran out of booze (the power was out long before the party started).

Needless to say its not a thing I like to repeat..

Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
278. leftyy420
4:52 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
yeah wp
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
277. leftyy420
4:52 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
yeah well was up till 6am so i am up now lol
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
276. wpb05
4:51 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
hey lefty....yep i guess at 9'30 this morning...i was pretty close saying 11......vortex starting to indicate we have a Cat. 2 now
275. corpuswatch
4:51 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
stormtop...need your email address...would be glad to get your mail and pics.

blue....the boss ought to be slapped for not letting people go when they want...he doesn't know for sure how long it takes to get up interstate 37...unless you are going south to the valley and even then..the roads are not as good that way.
SIR...i went through hurricane celia...i am taking no chances...kids are small and husband is recovering from stroke. more stress we don't need.
274. weatherwannabe
4:51 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
Visible eye formation on all 3 sats - visible, IR and WV
273. STORMTOP
4:51 PM GMT on September 20, 2005
yes big m i would say that was pretty accurate from the data i have right now...

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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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