Hurricane Rita final report issued

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:03 PM GMT on March 24, 2006

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The National Hurricnae Center has released its final report on Hurricane Rita. The report revises Rita's strength at landfall downward by 5 mph. Doppler radar data not available at the time the storm hit suggests that Rita's peak winds were 115 mph, not 120 mph as was previously thought. However, Rita was still a tremendously strong Category 3 hurricane at landfall, and carried a storm surge characteristic of a Category 4 hurricane with her to shore. The NHC report mentioned that storm surge values were hard to figure out, since most of the tidal gauges were destroyed. A maximum storm surge of 15 feet and perhaps a few feet higher probably occurred along the Louisiana coast to the right of where the eye came ashore. This storm surge destroyed nearly every building in the towns of Holly Beach, Cameron, Creole, and Grand Cheniere. The surge reached up to 30 miles inland in same locations, and flooded downtown Lake Charles-- with up to six feet of flood waters. Rita's central pressure at landfall is estimated at 937 mb based on dropwindsonde data from the Hurricane Hunters. This landfall pressure is the lowest on record in the Atlantic basin for a Catgegory 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Similar to Katrina one month earlier, the relatively weak winds in Rita for such a low pressure resulted from the fact that Rita grew to enormous size, spreading its broad pressure field over a huge area.


Figure 1. The eye of Hurricane Rita shortly after reaching its peak intensity. Rita had 180 mph winds and the 4th lowest sea-level pressure on record, 895 mb. Image taken from the NASA's MODIS satellite.

Rita's peak intensity while out over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current was higher than previously thought--the maximum winds were 5 mph stronger, and the central pressure 2 mb lower. There was a 6-hour gap in hurricane reconnaisance flights during the time that Rita underwent its rapid deepening phase, and it is thought the the storm continued to strengthen for a few hours while there was no one there to see it. Rita's maximum winds are now estimated at 180 mph, and her lowest pressure, 895 mb. This is the fourth-lowest pressure on record in the Atlantic, behind 882 mb in Wilma (2005), 888 mb in Gilbert (1988), and 892 mb in the 1935 Florida Keys hurricane. Rita's pressure dropped an astonishing 70 mb in just 24 hours, and strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 36 hours just after it passed 70 miles south of the Florida Keys. We are very fortunate that this deepening phase did not start 24 hours earlier and the storm did not track 70 miles further north, or else the U.S. might have had two hurricane disasters with major loss of life in 2005. The Florida Keys need a full 72 hours of evacuation time to get everybody out, and the evacuation order would likely have been given only 24 hours in advance. Next to New Orleans, the Keys are the number one most vulnerable place in the U.S., and a storm that causes major loss of life there is probably only a matter of time.

Jeff Masters


Figure 2. Radar image of Hurricane Rita as it began its explosive deepening to a Category 5 hurricane, barely sparing the Florida Keys.

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91. Finnmet
4:28 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
I'm really curious if Glenda will explode at one moment like Larry and Floyd,but I almost 90% believe it she will doing this.
90. ForecasterColby
4:27 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Great loop, Michael. Myles, you can't copy the URL. Right click on the image you're trying to post and copy+paste the whole path into this tag, using a lesser-than sign instead of [ and a greater-than sign instead of ]:

[img src="pasteimagepathhere" width="500" height="500"]

For NRL images, height/width should be the same.
89. MichaelSTL
3:31 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
A microwave loop of Rita can be seen here (intensifying from 70 to 150 kt).
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
88. HurricaneMyles
3:29 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Well, cleary I'm doing something wrong. Dont know what, but the image html wont work for me.

Glenda has an impressive eye though, for being a 40kt storm.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
87. HurricaneMyles
3:25 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Well, WTF. Let's try one more time.



Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
86. ForecasterColby
3:24 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Also, everyone should note the radar of Rita above, and compare to Rita at landfall.
85. ForecasterColby
3:23 PM GMT on March 27, 2006


Looks good to me.
84. MichaelSTL
3:20 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Glenda is predicted to make landfall on the extreme western end of Australia.

Link
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
83. HurricaneMyles
3:17 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Oops, here the picture.

Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
82. HurricaneMyles
3:16 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
I dont think there's just not enough convection there to updrade to a stronger strom based on Sat appearance, Colby.

Doesnt have much of a CDO now, it had even less then. However, that eye is only better defined now.

Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
81. MichaelSTL
3:05 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
The JTWC has issued a tropical cyclone formation alert for a system located west of Australia and south of Sumatra; these models predict it to harmlessly move west and out to sea.

Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
80. oriondarkwood
1:18 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Sorry I should have detailed my question a little more (part of it may be due to the fact I really didn't care about hurricane/cyclone/typoon seasons in other parts of the world until a couple of years back.

But it seems this year almost all the cyclones that has formed has brushed or hit Australia
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
79. Finnmet
1:00 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
In south-east Indian average cyclone/season is 7.This year was 8 but the season is not over yet.In south-west Pacific the average is 11 and in this season was 9 wich is below average.
78. ForecasterColby
12:55 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
No, we've just been following them this year. Activity is a bit above average, somewhat like 12 atlantic storms in a year. Above average, but not exceptional. Larry, however, was exceptional.
77. oriondarkwood
11:59 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Is it just me or has the cyclones really been pounding Australia this year?
Member Since: July 5, 2004 Posts: 51 Comments: 42
76. ForecasterColby
8:45 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Another Australian cyclone (JTWC says 40kt, despite that nice eye on microwave, but meh)
75. ForecasterColby
8:08 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
They've been around, but were 'experimental', not operational. That's all that's changed.
74. Skyepony (Mod)
5:44 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Agreed, seems i've seen that orange one end of last season & it seems similiar to what the UCF site was putting out.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
73. HurricaneMyles
5:35 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Yea Skyepony I know thats what they were officially using in forecasts, but the other graphics, except maybe Tropical Cyclone Probabilistic Surface Wind Speed Text, have been floating around for at least a few seasons.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
72. DAVIDKRZW
5:26 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
so what is all of this this year for the hurricane year 2006 is there going to be some in new
71. Skyepony (Mod)
5:25 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
The last 3 on the page is what they'd been using (marked discontinued), that was the Tropical Cyclone Strike Probability text, graphic & chart. The new & improved has a friendlier name (lose word~ strike~ replace with surface wind speed), text is more user friendly (including mph, etc) & the graphic is way better.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
70. HurricaneMyles
5:17 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Havent they been using those for a while now?Are they just becoming official now?
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
69. Skyepony (Mod)
5:08 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Here's the changes for the Tropical Cyclone Probabilistic Surface Wind Speed Text(kts, mph & km/hr), graphic (looks alot like the UCF experimental graphic we looked at last year) & table. Gasp, that's right, the chart is gone. Effective May 15th.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
68. weatherdogg
5:07 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
This spring on the West Coast so far is remarkably similar to last spring, with yet another stubborn "standing wave" trough parked over the Eastern Pacific. If anything, it is actually worse this year. I just hope this is a coincidence and does not bode ill for my family in Florida.
Member Since: September 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 93
67. globalize
5:06 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Wonder what happens to these super icebergs which are detaching? Where is the one which broke loose just a while back? Are they drifting away or staying close to the land mass? I would think there are commercial projects to pull them around to thirsty Arabs. That plan was out there fifty years ago.
Saw a documentary the other night about how several countries are already staking and mapping the polar sea lanes. When melting completely opens things up, they will be ready. They even have estimated when they can expect to begin cross polar routing. It is obvious capitalism plans to exploit/promote global warming.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
66. Skyepony (Mod)
4:49 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Here's an example of a new NOAA product~ Tropical Cyclone Cumulative Wind Distribution~ we'll be seeing next season. It widens the path of where a cane has been, showing what areas were affected by TS & hurricane force winds. It goes into operation May 15th.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
65. Skyepony (Mod)
4:32 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
globalize good point on the hills on the iceburg. Seems those would have taken longer to melt & in a very small way help keep the area cooler, if the hills weren't floating away. The pic seemed just amazing.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
64. HurricaneMyles
4:25 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
I'm looking around, but not much is going on. I guess tunnel talk scared everyone away.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
63. globalize
4:21 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Yeah, there are a few weather roaches around.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
62. taco2me61
3:57 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
is there any one in here tonight???
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
61. MichaelSTL
11:33 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Unfortunantly, some others (like whitewabit and atmosweather) have left because of what others have said, and there is no way to tell them to come back.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
60. louastu
11:29 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
I am not suggesting that he be banned from posting his ideas. I am simply asking if there is a way to make it so I don't see his posts.

I understand that there might be a chance to learn something,and honestly if he truly has discovered something, I would greatly appreciate it if he would let us in on what he knows, because I do enjoy learning new things. However, so far all I have seen from him is exactly the same. If he would begin providing proof, rather than just an idea, then I would have no problem reading what it is he has to say.

I will say that I should not threaten to avoid coming to this site. It would be foolish of me to let one person's comments prevent me from coming to a site that I otherwise, greatly enjoy. I have had a pretty miserable day so far and that did contribute to my earlier comment, and if I offended anyone, then I am sorry.
59. globalize
10:23 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
louastu..you learn from every stimulus, even what you might regard as negative. What you absorb or disregard is your choice. But the forum has to remain open.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
58. louastu
9:31 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Is there any way for me to make it so I don't see posts by cyclonebuster? I am getting extremely annoyed. If there is no way, then there is a chance that I will quit coming to this site on a regular basis.
57. globalize
8:37 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Yes, this is not the same article I read last week, but a similar one. The slippage you allude to due to flowing or standing water underneath the ice was a main point of the article.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
56. MichaelSTL
8:37 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
LOL - Tunnels? Have you ever proved that they work; and I mean real proof (in other words, that somebody has actually used them to do what you say they can do), not formulas. If you can show that they work, then I might believe that they can do what you say.
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
54. MichaelSTL
8:31 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
You also have to remember that meltwater helps lubricate the land under the glaciers, which causes them to slide into the ocean faster, as well as placing stress on the surrounding ice because of the loss of support (earthquakes are caused by ice abruptly sliding downhill and cracking).

Link
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
53. Skyepony (Mod)
8:30 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Yeah, as the ice lurches & moves as a result of melting that causes a type of quake. Another kind of feedback that makes things happen quicker than previously thought.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
52. globalize
8:22 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Well, if you'll notice from the photo, there is a row of hills on this particular iceberg. No doubt this additional tremendous weight helped it break off when the ice thinned to the east of the hills.
Inland the icecap is progressively thicker. Therefore, much more melting will be necessary to break away huge chunks, unless earthquakes enter the equation causing premature fissuring. From what I read last week though, this is already occuring.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
51. MichaelSTL
8:05 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
I would not be surprised if icebergs breaking off become very common in the future; I remember hearing about an iceberg the size of Long Island breaking up last year, and I wouldn't be surprised if a large part of the Antarctic ice cap simply broke apart one day and slid into the ocean (perhaps in a few decades or so, especially if what recent findings say are true).
Member Since: February 22, 2006 Posts: 94 Comments: 32744
50. globalize
8:00 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
That's scary. The scariest thing about it is, part of the world is so advanced that photos can be made of this, but the minds which actually control actions on earth are so primitive, nothing will be done about it.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
49. Skyepony (Mod)
7:46 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
New iceburg on the loose

Credit NOAAthe highlights~
March 24, 2006 — An iceberg about the size of Martha’s Vineyard broke off from the Fimbul Ice Shelf, a large glacial ice sheet, located along the northwestern section of Queen Maud Land, in the eastern Weddell Sea near Antarctica.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
48. Skyepony (Mod)
7:27 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Hawaii's latest round of weather has brought, hail, a tornado & more mudslides. Forecast rain today, maybe a break tommarrow, then good chance of rain through April 3rd. Link
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062
47. fredwx
3:17 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
To Acedancer
In his December 5 blog entry, Dr. Masters explained that the unusual number of hurricanes to strike the US in 2004 and 2005 has been linked to unusually warm SSTs in the central North Pacific during 2004-2005. Does anyone know what's going on in that area now? From what I could find, the temperatures look normal recently, but I don't know what I'm doing.

During 2004 there was a prevailing upper level high pressure ridge over the Eastern US which prevented low pressure troughs and fronts from penetrating southward and causing tropical cyclones from recurving NE’wd as they have done in previous years. This is better explained by:

“FORECAST OF ATLANTIC HURRICANE ACTIVITY FOR OCTOBER 2004 AND SEASONAL UPDATE THROUGH SEPTEMBER”

By
William M. Gray and Philip J. Klotzbach

with special assistance from William Thorson3

“Favorable formation conditions as occurred this year are not uncommon and have occurred in many prior years (but not usually with high Atlantic SLPA values and a warm Pacific SSTA pattern that was present this year). What is unique about this year is not the large amount of activity in the tropical Atlantic but having this high number of formation events occur in combination with anomalously high West Atlantic upper-level ridge activity in the latitude belt between 35-50°N (Fig. 6). The Bermuda high was stronger than normal and caused anomalously strong upper-level easterly steering current winds in the west Atlantic sub-tropical belt. This caused a high percent of the systems to take long westward tracks up to the longitudes of the United States.

The mean westerly wind conditions of August-September of this year showed a trough along and over the western North American continent and a ridge over the eastern North American continent and western Atlantic. This East Coast ridge protected this year's west-northwest moving hurricanes against the impinging influence of the middle-latitude westerlies that act to turn the westerly moving cyclones to the right and then recurve them. Most of this season's hurricanes kept moving westward and did not recurve until they got in the longitude of the southeast United States. These long-lived and intense hurricanes were the ones that affected the U.S. severely this year. We were thus unlucky in the positioning of the westerly ridge-trough patterns relative to the tropical Atlantic.
Source (see part 5:

Member Since: June 8, 2005 Posts: 221 Comments: 261
46. louastu
8:07 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
I feel really stupid. I need to read things more thoroughly before saying things.


The extent of tropical storm force winds in Hurricane Floyd was 580 miles in diameter. Also, at it's peak, Floyd had winds of 155 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 921 mb.
45. louastu
7:55 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
Well, I am not sure, but I may have been wrong about the size of Floyd. The extent of tropical storm force winds was only about 600 miles across. However, I may still be correct about the overall size of the circulation.
44. louastu
7:41 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
If I remember right, Floyd was about 1,400 miles across.

I wish that it had been in the 60's here. I had to be outside for about 4 hours. It was in the mid 30's, with periodic rain, sleet, and snow. It was absolutely miserable.
43. globalize
5:57 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
Floyd..was that the one east of mid Florida, about the size of the whole state?
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
42. globalize
5:55 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
SSTs have actually cooled substantially in the last three weeks in the Gulf region. My sister in the Keys says it may not hit 60 there tomorrow! They put on coats over sweaters down there for that!
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
41. Skyepony (Mod)
5:52 AM GMT on March 26, 2006
smile? I's LMAO...

louastu~ Yeah, Floyd had come to mind for me as well, that was 1 big scary storm when it was movin toward FL.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39062

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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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