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Caribbean disturbance to watch, and Rita moves out

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:25 PM GMT on September 25, 2005

Rita is moving quickly to the northeast at 20 mph, confounding the model predictions of a stall and serious rainwater flooding disaster. The maximum rainfall from Rita--a swath of 8 - 12 inches--fell along a narrow strip from Port Arthur to Shreveport. While some rivers in the area are in flood stage, only 1 - 3 more inches of rain are expected to fall over the area, alleviating concerns of a second major flooding disaster on top of the serious storm surge flooding that occurred. The remains of Rita are moving too quickly to present a serious flooding problem for any addional regions along its path. A few isolated areas of 3 or 4 inches are the maximum amounts expected.

Port Arthur got a direct hit by the eye or Rita, but escaped catastropic storm surge damage. This occurred because the east eyewall of Rita with its powerful southerly winds never blew over the bay Port Arthur lies on, but passed over land just to the east of the city. Thus, water from the open ocean was not forced up into the bay by the eyewall's winds. The maximum storm surge hit a very sparsely populated area of the Southwest Louisiana coast. The small town of Cameron (population 2000) was the largest town along this stretch of coast, and apparently suffered damage similar to what was seen in Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina. Damage estimates for Rita (insured plus uninsured property) range from $5 - $10 billion. These numbers would have been in the $20 - $40 billion range had Rita hit Galveston/Houston. So, while Rita was very bad for the regions it did hit, we were lucky it wasn't far worse.

Caribbean tropical disturbance
The main area of concern today is a tropical disturbance in the southeastern Caribbean sea, due south of Puerto Rico. This disturbance has a small but growing area of deep convection associated with it, and is in an area of 10 knots of shear. This shear is forecast to decrease the next 48 hours, possibly allowing more substantial development as the disturbance tracks westward at 15 mph.

African activity
A tropical disturbance about 800 miles west-southwest
of the Cape Verde Islands remains poorly organized, and is suffering from wind shear imparted by a large upper-level low pressure system to its west. This shear is expected to decrease over the next two days, which may allow some development to occur. The disturbance is moving west-northwest, and will probably recurve to the norhteast in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Long range models show the possibility of more tropical development off the coast of Africa during the week, as well. However, keep in mind that we are now into the last week of September, and it is rare for tropical storms that form in the eastern Atlantic this late in the season to affect any land areas. These late September storms nearly always recurve out to sea before threatening any land areas. This occurs because the jet stream is getting more active as Fall begins to assert itself, driving strong troughs of low pressure futher south where they can more easily recurve tropical systems to the north.

The place to watch this week is the Caribbean.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

501. iyou
subtropic - everything in the south is so different from the north1 we have squirrels and skunks - you have big snakes and alligators - no contest!
iyou.so very true ! My kids are 18 and 15 and I'm still way over-protective. It is just a mom thing...and dads too Lefty..Hope everyones safe.
hey mymom is over protective of me all teens think that though lol
ivan was only 105kts at landfall. had rita hit the same area as the 930 system she was she would have done twice the damage. rita hit an area with only 3 towns on her right side. all the rest was marsh land. also 100 miles form the cenetr they registered winds of 117mph. more than ivan came to shore with. next ritas surge was twicew that of ivans. it was atleast 20 feet where she made landfall. she wipped out 3 towns, 90 percent destruction, all gone. so how many towns did ivan wipe off the face of the earth?
Sub I'm southeast of Nashville...it's gonna storm tomorrow too...I looked earlier..and later on this week Thurs. I think its gonna be 73 for the high...that I couldnt believe..but we'll see.

I have been lurking here for quite a while but never registered till tonight. I find the imput of a few people here (Lefty and Top) to be quite useful, but for those of you who seem to always want to turn this in to another AOL chat room where you can talk trash to each other without backing it up I have this to offer...

"Arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win... Your still retarded."

Now, can we get back to a civilized conversation about the system south of puerto rico? Because that thing has my attention and I would like to know what Dr. Masters and Lefty think about it.
507. iyou
Jeff - We, well, some of us remember, our wild teen days-that's why we worry, because we KNOW!! Plus, we always carry around inside of us the little baby that you were - my 'kids' are 31 and 25 yrs!! Yeah, I worry - so back to the weather...pouring buckets still...
no leftyy the face of the earth thats a little much man get some rest and dont go stomping around
hey flg go to the desscussion blog this is a blog set up like a chat room like place that is were all the questions go ok
What happened? Who's arguing?

Prtty-It looks to me like the center of Rita just passed you and conditions should ease up a little
FLGLFCST...I'm gonna have to remember that one ! That is so true .
yeah if i was lost iyou i would miss my mommy so lol
Lake Charle Police Chief said they had looters. They looted a porno store.lol.
wow junkie at the word argue you spring into action whats up with that man
Whats up stormj!
flg, it will be 2 days at best befor that system has any chance of developing. i am watching the nice wave that just came off of africa but it is likely not a threat. when the wave south of pr gets near the yucatan it will have a chance to develop. sst are high so she should develop rather quickly. if she gets in the gulf there a question as to how much heat will be availiable but i belive a cat2-cat3 can be sustained in the gulf
517. iyou
subtropic - will you pull up that regional radar for prtty?
What's up Sub and Lefty?

Easy Jeff. Where's 8888889?
hey sj
520. iyou
heheh - porn looters!! - priorities!!
I just did that iyou (radar), that's why I think the center just passed over her.
Oops. Sorry. I already did but never posted it. Here it is: Link
Thanks SJ ..I need some good news. Its been a rough one today for sure.. They are still calling for rain and a few storms tomorrow but no tornadoes I hope. I dont like them at night ..I cant see them coming..pretty neat to watch during the day though....from a distance.
Well calling it the Virgin blob did not work out to well for the Gulf coast so...

So the PR blob is headed in to the gulf and not the carib? Been working and going out with the girl all weekend, and watching Rita coverage.
525. iyou
k, thanks subtropic
stormj, not to go getting all technical, but it was actually Phillipe that sprang from the virgin blob (the system east of the virgin islands). I guess Rita was called "Blobby".
Man that birmingham radar is impressive. I don't remeber that line of showers. Looks like the whole SE should get some rain out of this. Is that all Rita interacting with a front?
Thanks subtropic,iyou and sj. looks like I will be safe to catch a few winks ...gotta rush around packing for a Vegas trip in the morning...not enough hrs in the day...:)
Rita was the Virgin blob and Phil was "the wave" then 17? I thought.
530. iyou
Night prtty-treat yourself in Vegas-you deserve it ;-)
She was N of PR then moved wnw through the keys, with out going over Cuba? No?
alright every one. i am out catch yall later. catch u later sj
the way I remember it, we were scolded for calling the system east of Puerto Rico "the system east of Puerto Rico". She pointed out that there were other islands out there too. It's late and I could be screwed up, but I think it was phil.
534. iyou
Night leftty!
nite lefty. At any rate, I suppose I should get out of here. iyou, it was nice getting to know you a little (even if we were tragically off-topic). stormj, I am really not much for blogging, but I hope I see more of you for the next storm! prttyeyeyez if you're still on, have a blast in Vegas!
Night Lefty.

You could be right Sub, you got me second geussing myself now.lol.
537. iyou
sub-tropic - you too-i feel slightly chastised1 - c'est la vie! night ;-)
Man, I hope we get some snow in the south this year. It has been a while here.
iyou, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it to sound that way. That was a dig for those who might have comments about the "chat" nature of this blog this evening. It was great talking to you. stormj.... smow? What's snow?
Thanks Guys...Everybody be safe and I'll catch up when I get back on the 2nd. Night All !
541. iyou
stormjunkie - if you are talking about Rita - I watched her roll over 'the bent finger hump', if you will, of her northern coast-she rolled perfectly along that north coast with only her outflow extending over Cuba-that's what it looked like to me.
542. iyou
subtropic-i didn't mean you either!! no prob ;-)
Agreed iyou, that is what I was saying, but I thought that was "The Virgin" blob. Sub said Phil was "The Virgin" blob. Formerly known as the PR blob.
544. iyou
stormjunkie-along the north coast of Cuba is what i meant-it's late-if you can pull up some sats, it's clear, that's what she did.
545. iyou
stormjunkie-that's the problem with giving them nicknames-it's confusing later!
Yes, but it adds a little color.
548. iyou
geez jeff, that was a delayed reaction-give yourself a shake and be good, k?
Gosh what a temper!

I just know you two are "friends" and was asking if you had seen him as of late.
550. iyou
well 'm off for the night-try not to blog wrestle you two-stormjunkie, we;re getting tons of rain up here in southern ontario from Rita-coming down like a thick curtain...night guys ;-)
ALright night iyou
yes we are friends and you know it
stormj. I found it (I cannot belive I even looked).

Posted By: CrucianCrip at 4:04 PM EDT on September 17, 2005.
wonderer - sorry to make your head spin. The Virgin Blob came from my request to have folks recognize that "east of PR" is a chain of US-owned islands and not just open water. SJ then rechristened what was formerly known as the East of PR blob to the US Virgin ISlands BLob, whichb then got laughed down to simply the Virgin Blob.

I do rather like you definition of virgin blob as one that hasn't been sheared yet...more humor is definitely needed most days. Funny. :-)
Good goin Sub.lol. Slow in the tropics. I was jsut looking over the models and the sats. The S of PR blob is looking alittle healthier after the Sat blackout. What is the thinking on general track?
ps I stand corrected.
I was just looking at that myself. I am not sure about track right now. I am leaning towards straight into central america. But that is highly debateable.
I know there is supposed to be a trough moving towards west Florida, but I am not sure how strong it will be yet. Obviously if it is stronger, I guess this thing might move more north. I really hope not. The gulf just doesn't need anything else to watch.
And with that, I really must go. I'll get with you on this one soon.
Night. Gonna try and find some guidance models for it.
I asked one of the WWL Meteorologists about the Caribbean Wave on their forum. Somehow I don't buy what he said, he seemed arrogant, defensive, a bit too quick to write it off, but for what it's worth, here's his analysis.

Feel free to tear it apart at your discretion:

"I first of alll don't think upper level winds will be favorable for development. If somthing were to develope it would either move into Central America or into the Southeastern Gulf and into Florida. Even if this happened it wouldn't develope much due to SW wind shear. I would be too concerned about thie wave. With two fronts and strong Eastern trough it would be hard for somthing to come to LA in the next 7-10 days. I looked at the tropical model and non show anything developing with this mornings model runs. Shouldn't watch national Networks for local weather info."

I'm not quite sure why he believes the central gulf is safe from a window that includes both central america and south florida. I've asked him to clarify, but seeing as how he spends most of his time as blog moderator publicly bashing other meterologists on competing stations, I doubt I'll get a reply soon.


I find the WWL comments very funny since they can only spout the NHC forecast and never give thier opinion of where a storm will go. They are the LAST station I chose to watch in this area because of it. We just got the kiss of death from WWL if they say not to worry about it that damn wave will probably blow up now and hit dead center of central LA. LOL
oh ladobelady don't say that i can't take this any more.
It is what it is Putintang3. We can't stop them from coming only prepare and get the heck out of dodge. I don't want to deal with them any longer either, but it is the price we pay for living on the Gulf.
new post, ya'll