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Hawaii gets a temporary reprieve

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:40 PM GMT on March 17, 2006

The rains have stopped for the past day on Hawaii's Kauai Island, where over 100 inches of rain has fallen in the mountains in the past three weeks. The heavy rains are due to a persistent upper-level low pressure system, a common occurence in the Central Pacific during a La Nina event like the region is now experiencing. The rains moved away from the islands yesterday, which have been under a continuous series of flash flood warnings and watches for weeks. The improved weather will aid in the search for victims of the failure of an earthen dam that burst on Kauai Tuesday. When the dam broke, a 20-foot flood of water moving at 15-20 mph smashed through a populated area, killing two and leaving six people missing and presumed dead. If the missing people are declared dead, this week's disaster would be the deadliest weather disaster in Hawaii's history.

Figure 1. Radar estimated precipitation on Kauai from March 13 - March 17. The radiating rays to the north are caused by mountains that block the radar beam, and the actual precipitation on the northern part of the island is greater than shown here.

Hawaii is probably the safest state as far as deaths from weather-related causes go. High surf is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in Hawaii, with 92 deaths between 1960-2004. Flash floods have killed 46 people in Hawaii in the past 45 years, high wind, six people, and hurricanes, six. Prior to this week's flood disaster, the previous most deadly flood disaster on Hawaii occurred on December 14, 1991, when a rainstorm dropped over 20 inches of rain in 12 hours on Kauai, causing five deaths, intense flooding, bank failures, erosion, and slides, with more than $5 million in property damages. Hawaii's only billion-dollar weather disaster occurred in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki passed directly over Kauai as a Category 4 hurricane, killing 6 and causing over $3 billion in damage. Hurricanes are fairly rare in Hawaii--only three hurricanes have brought hurricane-force winds over the islands since 1957. The National Climatic Data Center lists Hawaii as having the second fewest billion dollar weather disasters of any state since 1980 (one). Only Alaska has had no billion-dollar weather disasters.

The 100+ inches of rain that fell on Kauai's Mt. Waialeale the past three weeks has not set any records yet--Mount Waialeale averages 424 inches of rain per year, and is second only to the the monsoon-drenched Himalaya Mountains of India as the wettest spot on Earth. Mt. Waialeale recorded 683 inches of rain in 1982. The U.S. record of 704 inches in a year was set the same year at nearby Maui Island's Puu Kukui, at 5,788 feet elevation. The Hawaiian state 24-hour rainfall record is 38 inches at Kilauea Plantation on the island of Kauai, on Jan 24-25, 1956. Mt. Waialeale has three factors that help it catch more rain than other locations in the Hawaiian islands (thanks, Wikipedia):

1) Its northern position relative to the main Hawaiian Islands provides more exposure to frontal systems that bring rain during the winter.
2) It has a relatively round and regular conical shape, exposing all sides of its peak to winds and the moisture that they carry.
3) Its peak lies just below the so-called trade wind inversion layer of 6,000 feet (1,800 m), above which trade-wide-produced clouds cannot rise.

The long range outlook for Kauai and the rest of the Hawaiian islands is not good--another upper-level low pressure system is expected to move over the islands Saturday, bringing an increased chance of flash flooding. The rains are part of a typical La Nina weather pattern for the Hawaiian islands which is expected to continue for several months, according to the latest seasonal outlook issued yesterday by the Climate Prediction Center.

Jeff Masters
Rainbow on the Ocean
Rainbow on the Ocean
There is a faint double rainbow.
651 inches of rain a year!!
651 inches of rain a year!!
Sleeping Giant!!
Mount Waialeale
Mount Waialeale
Clear view of Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on Earth, as seen from the Kuilau trail on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.


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

First!! too cool!
It's interesting how each of the most beautiful places on the globe have their own weather issues... though hundreds of inches per year seems unimaginable. Guess you have to take the bad with the good. I'm just glad I didn;t set up a vacation in Hawaii during the past weeks... hopefully things settle down when I make it out that way.

Happy St. Patty's Day!!
Rita downgraded to 115 mph at landfall: Report

I can't believe the NHC. It's inexplicable.
The NHC has released its report on Hurricane Rita. (www.nhc.noaa.gov/2005atlan.shtml?)
No it isn't. Rita's wind damage didn't comapre with Katrina's, and since Katrina was (supposedly) a Cat 3 at landfall, they couldn't very well have had Rita as strong/stronger.

I agree with that, though. Rita's damage, while severe, was not tremendous, and 115 seems reasonable.
Rita's maximum intensity was also upgraded to 180 mph and 895 mb.
Hey Colby,

I respect your opinion, but I'm gonna have to disagree. Katrina, although more powerful than Rita, did 90% of her damage in flooding and storm surge. The wind damage was not tremendous. Rita, however, struck an area with a combined population of less than 10,000 people (compared to almost a million where Katrina hit), and still produced an incredible 10 billion dollars in damage. Hurricane Wilma, for example, struck south Florida (a very heavily populated area) with supposedly stronger winds and did only 2.6 billion dollars more in damage. And what about Rita's 937 mb central pressure? It was not a particularly large hurricane (hurricane force winds extended 85 miles from the center compared with Katrina's 125 miles), and the ambient pressures in the Gulf of Mexico were only slightly lower than average. 937 mb would usually equate to around 120 kts, or 140 mph. Even if we add in lower ambient pressures and the larger size of Rita compared with other hurricanes, it woyuld still equate to 110-115 kts, which is borderline Category 3-4 intensity.

If you could explain further why you think the NHC was right with 115 mph, then I will gladly read it; I am here to be proved wrong on this issue!


Katrina did not make landfall with anywhere near the strength it had even a hundred miles offshore. It made a hard right just prior to landfall, geared itself down tremendously and tore up the Mississippi coast, mostly with tidal surge, somewhat similar to a Tsunami, or tidal wave.
New Orleans suffered the way it did because the city was a mudhole waiting to fill up. Levees breached, fouled up pumps which were not even elevated themselves, and the city was inundated. If Katrina had not turned right, and had hit New Orleans with anything like full fury, there would have been tens of thousands dead, almost immediately.

who cares you been first
The best theory as to why these storms 'gear down' just before landfall on the Gulf of Mexico coast is the lack of deep water to maintain momentum. It is said that these category 5 storms are piling waves 80-200 ft high in the deep ocean. But the storm literally trips and begins to fall as it reaches shore. You must go many miles offshore along the Gulf to approach depths of 200 feet. But consider a Cat 5 storm approaching the US east coast, where such depths exist right offshore, making it more likely that the storm keeps its momentum right up to landfall.
Katrina had some winds, snapped 85% of the pines on the farm. She was harsh on the poultry indusrty as well. NO just didn't see them... Though at the time Rita seemed to have higher winds, to me, just less population damage. As far as business damage, she tore up the oil industry more, than Katrina.

& haw haw ya'll are funny... the magnetic north leaves Canada was just another topic we had covered, unrelated to hurricanes ~ But Inyo, since ya offered, on the slim chance, I'll take that picture:)

Micheal~ i Googled it, between the 2 most recent articles, with same facts, the other was pretty dry in content.
Wilma's pressure had risen to 894 mbar (26.40 inHg) as the hurricane weakened to Category 4, with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). Wilma was the first hurricane ever in the Atlantic Basin (and possibly the first tropical cyclone in any basin), to have a central pressure below 900 mbar (26.58 inHg) while at Category 4 intensity

A cat 4 hurricane under 900 MBs, thats amazing.

A question for globalize who was talking about hurricanes which most of the time downgrade as they near the shoreline. Andrew was an exception as it made landfall strngthening. Do you think this was because the water off that coastline was deeper and had warmer water further down?

Talking about strange hurricane occurences, the price of beds if you have noticed have increased as much as 40-50% in the past 6 months. Due to the amount of foam that is manufactured where Katrina and Rita made landfall, much of that production was cut short as many of the factories which produce the foam in beds were destroyed. My friend bought a bed for 1000 dollars just 3 years ago, it broke and now beds that went for that much are now as much as 2000 dollars.

Giants in 06
I think the strangest thing about last hurricane season is that Emily was a cat-5, and was the third weakest major hurricane of the season.
Report on Zeta is out.
Also, the reports on Franklin and Harvey are out.
Wilma's pressure had risen to 894 mbar (26.40 inHg) as the hurricane weakened to Category 4, with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). Wilma was the first hurricane ever in the Atlantic Basin (and possibly the first tropical cyclone in any basin), to have a central pressure below 900 mbar (26.58 inHg) while at Category 4 intensity

Actually, Wilma's pressure was 892 mb at that point in the final report, while at 155 mph (many sources have not been updated).
check out the link for the Florida discussions on iwin. Tallahassee has freaked out!
What is iwin?
Exactly what do you mean by "Tallahassee has freaked out"?
thanks for the link..ditto about "Tallahassee has freaked out"...????

From the NHC report on Zeta:
"The National Hurricane Center has also identified an unnamed subtropical storm that formed earlier in 2005."!!!
Does anyone know anything about this? Will the NHC issue a report on it?
Yes, they will issue a short report on it, according to Max Mayfield
Here's the link to the discussion in IWIN. Scroll down to you get to Tallahasse.

From what i had understood on the propossed iwin termination That i'd linked ya'll to comment to NOAA on was~ if it was to be terminated it would happen by March 1st. Looks like it will see another year.
The following is a link showing the current ice cover over the oceans in the northern hemisphere produced by Environment Candada. Two things of note--this is the week when oceanic ice cover typically is at its maximum, and the current ice cover is lower than any other winter max reported since satellite surveys began in 1968.

The other is the lack of ice cover on the northern side of Hokkaido island (the furthest north of the big four Japanese islands. For the first time, the ice cover has not reached the northern shore, and the ice tourist trade, which has been an important part of the local economy has collapsed. Not only is this the first time this has happened since weather records began in Japan in the 1880s, but the inhabitants of the coastal villages say that this has NEVER happened before

Link to ice cover map Link

Also, the story about the lack of sea ice on nothern Hokkaido island is in today's New York Times, I don't have a web link, but it is in today's Times.
Be sure to click so that the map expands in size, because it is pretty small originally.
I had difficulty getting the link to work--I made a mistake, it was in the NYT on March 14th. Here is the article text below:

Mombetsu Journal
A Port's Ice Is Thinning, and So Is Its Tourist Trade

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Published: March 14, 2006

MOMBETSU, Japan The icebreaker Garinko II cast off one recent morning with an apology.
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Chieko Tsuneoka for The New York Times

The drift ice off Hokkaido, seen in a photo taken from a Japanese Navy plane, is getting thinner.

The loudspeaker told the four tourists aboard the ship, large enough for 195 passengers, what they had already deduced. Regrettably, the drift ice that drew them here, which usually descends on Japan's northern face this time of the year, was nowhere in sight a result, experts say, of warming waters in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Inside the control room, the captain, Shigeru Yamai, was making a beeline for a thin patch of ice in a corner of the harbor. It was hardly drift ice. Still, as the icebreaker's two powerful drills tore through the pitifully thin ice, perhaps the muted sound did give the tourists, in the captain's words, "just a feel" of the real thing.

"It wouldn't do if all they saw on this trip was the sea's blue water," he said, steering the Garinko II toward just that.

"It's an abnormal year," said the captain, who has navigated through the drift ice for 21 years. "We've gotten so little ice."

Indeed, there was so little this winter of the majestic, often latticeshaped ice that normally drifts down the Sea of Okhotsk onto the northern coast of Hokkaido that the tourist association here is already talking of the post-drift-ice era. In its thinness, in its short duration and in every other measure, this winter's drift ice was considered the poorest in almost two decades.

Next year, of course, the ice may be thicker and longer-lasting. But some experts say global warming is changing the temperature of the Sea of Okhotsk and shrinking the size of the drift ice the same way it is melting Greenland's glaciers.

Masaaki Aota, director of the Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido here, said records from the nearby city of Abashiri showed that the average temperature had risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century and that the amount of drift ice had shrunk by 40 percent.

"It's clear that the force of the drift ice has become weaker and the average air temperature has become higher," Mr. Aota said. He said he believed that the most likely cause was global warming, though he added that there was no conclusive evidence. "I don't think this is a problem particular to this place," he said.

The Sea of Okhotsk is the southernmost body of water where drift ice can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, a phenomenon tied to its twolayer water system. In early December the seawater in the northern Sea of Okhotsk reaches the freezing point as Siberian winds chill the air. At the same time, the Amur River in Russia flows into the sea, glossing the surface with fresh water, which freezes more easily than saltwater.

Temperatures have long been cold enough to freeze the sea's southernmost edge, along the Hokkaido coast, for the first three months of each year. Archaeologists believe that in ancient times the ice allowed Asians from the mainland known as the Okhotsk people and related to the Inuit in North America to migrate to Hokkaido.

Here in Mombetsu, a traditional fishing town with a smattering of stores catering to Russians engaging in the crab trade, the drift ice has usually appeared in mid-January and stayed strong until mid-March, often lingering until May. The drift ice made the sea impassable to all ships but icebreakers for an average of 40 days. This year, the sea remained locked for only 10 days.

Takatoshi Hatakeyama, 71, a retired fisherman, remembered that when he was a boy the drift ice invaded the coast every winter. Children played atop the mounds of ice that piled up on the shore.

"We'd put a board on the ice and walk on it," Mr. Hatakeyama said. "When spring came we'd see hairy crabs showing their red shells on the sand here and there. We'd fill them into the bamboo baskets we carried on our backs. I'd collect them and go home before going to school."

He remembers being stuck in the drift ice when he worked on a fishing trawler as an adult.

"We'd be caught in the drift ice, but it was all right," he said. "If there was a storm and we'd go into the drift ice it'd be quiet, in the evening or in the daytime. We'd hear the sound of the drift ice. It has different kinds of cries, like 'giri giri.' We call it the cry of the drift ice. When the air comes in, it cries 'gu gu gu.' It changes according to the situation."

For fishermen especially before it was widely known that the drift ice acted as a lid and contributed to the growth of algae and plankton underneath, to the benefit of fish the drift ice was considered an enemy. It landlocked fishermen in the winter and forced them to find other jobs during those months. Or it forced large trawlers to break through the ice and seek open waters away from the Sea of Okhotsk.

"The sea would be entirely frozen," said Kazuo Nawata, 69, another retired fisherman. "You couldn't move forward, but you'd have to move forward. So you'd go back, then strike forward, go back, then forward."

It is only in the last 25 years that drift ice became a tourist attraction, said Masayoshi Hatanaka, president of the Mombetsu City Tourist Association. Mr. Hatanaka is now emphasizing the importance of finding another tourist attraction in Mombetsu's post-drift-ice era.

Tourists were drawn to the severe beauty of the frozen sea, and scientists like Mr. Aota wrote essays on the poetry of the drift ice.

"When the drift ice is pressing against the shore," Mr. Aota said, "it cries like a cow. When it gets severely cold it goes 'biri.' It's a metallic sound. If you combine them, you could make a symphony."

The drift ice drew tourists like Mitsuhiro Nakamura, 35, one of the four aboard the Garinko II the other morning. Mr. Nakamura came every year from Tokyo to see the ice on his birthday.

"I'll probably come again next year," Mr. Nakamura told Captain Yamai inside the control room.

As he prepared to dock the Garinko II, the captain said, "If you come again next year and see me, please say hello. I might not be here, though."
My 2006 hurricane season outlook has been updated.
I went to find the mention of a STS...it's not there anymore!
Hey everyone,

A quick post regarding both the Rita revised intensity at landfall and the comparisons being made between her and Katrina.

First of all, I personally believe the NHC got both of these final reports wrong in terms of landfalling intensity.

I still have to wonder if there could actually be some underlying reason (insurance companies, political pressures, something) for the MHC to come up with Katrina being only a 125 mph 920 mb hurricane in Buras, La. and a 120 mph category 3 storm at 928 mb in Mississippi.

On the other hand, it is also unfair as well to suggest that the NHC is being the equivalent of being dishonest in their reanalyzation of these storms.

Honestly, there is just no reasonable meteorological explanation for how they can derive (not in their report) that Katrina wasn't a 135 mph minimal category four for Buras landfall and probably closer to 130 mph borderline category 3/4 for the Mississippi landfall.

Likewise, it is pretty hard to conceive based upon the merits, how they can determine that Rita was just a weak category three landfall at 115 mph coming ashore with a 940 mb pressure.

I will go on record and suggest it is possible in my humble opinion that the NHC's rushed report on Katrina, which I believe is flawed had an impact on the discussions in determining Rita true landfalling intensity as well.

To be more specific, there is no way they could've realistically had Rita coming ashore at the same landfalling intensity as Katrina since they already listed Katrina as only a 125 mph moderate category three.

I naturally understand the inadequacies in the one to one ratio of the pressure gradient for correlating wind speeds with a given barometric pressure.

However, a correlation does still exist nonetheless and when reanalyzing both storms with the ambient (surrounding) pressures present at the time of each landfall, the current understanding and the science does not account for so great a disparity as the NHC would have you believe with the revised landfalling intensities for both storms.

As a result, I would respectfully argue that Rita was more on the line of a weakening 125 mph category three at landfall and not 115 mph.

I see some posts suggesting that Katrina's wind damage was not as extensive as Rita which I have to respectfully disagree for the widespread and very extensive wind damage rated as F-2 on the Fujita tornado scale that the NWS uses which reached more than 120 miles inland to Laurel, MS. and I personally drove through South Hattiesburg (65 miles inland)through Hattiesburg (75 miles inland) and past Meridian, MS. (150 miles inland) where the NWS rated damage still at F-1 intensity past Meridian to almost 200 miles inland.

The reason that the wind damage which was unbelievable (factual evidence in my video)doesn't get talked about too often is directly the result of the massive and historic damage caused by Katrina's storm surge which did the vast majority of the damage no doubt, and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans which places estimates at $75-100 billion for Katrina's damage.

This total would still have been well above Rita's, even if they had created comparable storm surges and we shouldn't forget that Rita did demolish entire SW La. towns with her own extreme surge of 15-20 feet which caused the majority of her damage as well.

There is very little doubt that Rita did not even come that close to producing the type of wind damage as Katrina did and she certainly didn't come close to having officially measured winds of 137 mph 50 miles inland, much less 120 mph 100 miles inland as well, which brought the astonishing widespread F-2 wind damage to inland Mississippi.

In short, both storms did most of their damage via the huge storm surges they both produced (Rita's surge pushing 20 feet is very rare in itself) and each surge virtually wiped entire coastal communities off the map for the time being.

Naturally, they also each caused widespread wind damage that was overshadowed in Katrina's case because of the astronomical damage on the coast by her surge and the media coverage primarily focused on the historic and devastating flooding of New Orleans combined with the immense and incomprehensible tragedy of more than 1400 people losing their lives along the coast which naturally would not have occurred had Katrina not produced that astounding storm surge.

In other words, if Katrina would've only brought in the same still incredible storm surge as Rita (which might not have breached the levees in New Orleans if the surge was closer to the 15 foot estimate on the low end of Rita's estimated surge), there still would have been a huge disparity in the damage totals related to wind damage alone, as the official NWS damage surveys undeniably prove.

Regardless of the inaccurate(in my humble opinion) revised landfall intensities for both storms, it has zero effect on the immense and virtually unbearable hardship that each storm brought to those who were most affected by each.

That being said, there is also no doubt that Rita's wind speeds and resultant damage couldn't come close to being comparable to Katrina's (have to remember Katrina's surge completely demolished the structures along the coast that otherwise would've been able to show the wind damage there) not just on the coast, but 200 miles inland which is astounding for a weakening 120 mph category three (supposedly) on the Mississippi coast.

It is one thing to analyze and contemplate the wind damages inflicted by each storm from afar and an entirely different matter when you have seen it with your very own eyes.

I will submit the post storm damage report for Katrina and Rita for comparisons, and it will clearly show that Rita's wind damages, while very extensive, doesn't come close to comparing with Katrina's (the difference in windfields had much to do with it as well as if I remember correctly, Katrina was moving slightly faster than Rita)

We can't forget that Rita had a very large hurricane force wind field extending some 85 miles from the center. Yet, Katrina had an even more remarkable hurricane force wind field extending up to 125 miles away from the center.

That is a very big difference of 40 miles in which Katrina's hurricane force winds would be impacting an area 40 miles farther inland if both storms were located at the same point. Moreover, it would take Rita more than two full hours to bring her hurricane force winds to the same area Katrina had blasted at landfall.

At that point, Katrina would then be blasting areas with hurricane force winds another 40 miles further inland of Rita. It is also important to note that Katrina maintained her very destructive intensity much further inland as well.

I am in no way trying to minimize the incredible wind damage inflicted by Rita. However, it's truly unfair and very inaccurate to suggest it was more widespread and more significant than Katrina's.

In short, they both were very destructive storms and huge calamities for everyone who was adversely affected by each and the technical meteorological discussions that are debated by all of us (definitely me included here) as well as the NHC is comparably very inconsequential.


Here is the summary from the Katrina post storm report that I alluded to in my previous post detailing the incredible wind damage inland for Katrina. This report is from the NWS in Jackson, MS.

It says:

"Destruction in the path of Hurricane Katrina has been widespread and overwhelming.

catastrophic destruction was left across the Gulf Coast and parts of southeast Mississippi.

Several visual surveys were made by NWS personnel across portions of central...east-central and southeast Mississippi.

These surveys indicated widespread damage comparable to F1 and F2 tornadoes...with areas bordering on F3 type damage.

The most extensive damage...from the surveyed areas...is roughly located south and east of a Purvis to Collins to Newton to Meridian line.

Areas north of I-20 have considerable tree
damage...comparable to an F1 tornado...but the damage is not as widespread like across southeast Mississippi."

Please note the widespread wind damage alone was equivalent to F-3 on the Fujita tornado scale! Most other areas south of 150 miles inland (Meridian, MS.) had widespread damage equivalent to F-2 tornadoes.

It also says less widespread wind damage equivalent to F-1 tornadoes some 200 miles inland.

This is very consistent with the damage I also surveyed and recorded myself for there was very widespread and extensive damage to trees, power lines, and structural damage to homes and businesses past Laurel into Meridian where the widespread nature of the destruction was less noticeable on my drive North into that town on I-59.

It is safe to say Rita can't come close to claiming this type of widespread and extensive wind damage excluding the storm surges.


Hey everyone,

I noticed a typo on my part.:)

"Please note the widespread wind damage alone was equivalent to F-3 on the Fujita tornado scale! Most other areas south of 150 miles inland (Meridian, MS.) had widespread damage equivalent to F-2 tornadoes."

It should've said, widespread wind damage of F-2 with some areas pushing F-3 type damage on the Fujita tornado scale.

In other words, there was widespread wind damage more than 120-150 miles inland of F-2 damage on the Fujita tornado scale, and F-1 damage past that upwards of 200 miles in many areas.

The fujita scale assumes that the winds do not last long, a minute or so at most. Winds from a tropical system last hours. Of course the fujita damage overrates the storm.
Good Update Dr Masters and beautiful selection of pictures.
I remember Hurricane Iniki in 1992 (I've always been a Hurricane geek) that news footage of that roof blowing off was seen hundreds of times!

Hope they get a little break in that area soon.
Thanks again,

The S Pacific is back - Larry looks good.
'92 seems to have been a bad year for the U.S., despite low activity. Andrew and Iniki.

Or, it would have been considered a bad year until, say, 2004.
i have update my blog on the R storm it was not a cat 3 storm come on by a look at the photo on there you see it cat not be a cat 3 storm if you look at the photo it was a cat 4
I agree completely with your assessment on Katrina and Rita. I don't want to accuse anyone of being dishonest, but I'm afraid politics did play a part. Also, the insurance industry is very, very powerful. There may be a lot of pressure to "massage the data", as a professor in one of my college courses used to say.

But one good thing out of all of this is that we are really rethinking how we rate hurricanes. I think the size of a hurricane can be more important than what the lowest pressure or highest wind speed is. This is true especially with a major hurricane. When Katrina was a Cat 5 it built up such an enormous storm surge that even as the winds weakened somewhat before landfall, that had almost no effect because the momentum of the storm surge was so great, and covered such a large area.

It is tough to figure out how to rate hurricanes, though. We don't want to minimize in any way the destruction and suffering caused by much smaller but very intense hurricanes (Charley would be an example), but it makes no sense to rate Katrina lower than Charley!
The rating system is based on WINDS ONLY. When will you people get that through your heads? It could do F5 tornado damage and have a pressure of 218mb, and the winds could still be 155 and it would still be a Cat 4.
I'm actually a little suprised they kept it that high...this doesn't look like a Cat 3 to me.
when i say the R storm updat i was mad i was hoping for a update to a cat 4 and not lower it to 115mph

did you all no that they did the to all 3 hurricane ????
Yes, I realize we rate by winds only right now. But I just don't think that did justice to the destruction caused by Katrina and points up weaknesses in our current rating system. Just my opinion.
Hey Colby,

You said:

"The rating system is based on WINDS ONLY. When will you people get that through your heads? It could do F5 tornado damage and have a pressure of 218mb, and the winds could still be 155 and it would still be a Cat 4."

Who ever said the rating system (i.e. Saffir- Simpson hurricane scale) wasn't based on WINDS ONLY as you correctly noted?

If you somehow misunderstood my point that there is still a correlation between Barometric pressure and the winds generated by the storm, I suggest you please reread my posts once again.

I stated correctly that although there is not a direct one to one ratio between winds and pressure, that there isn't as great a disparity as the NHC would have some believe.

That was only one of many points that I discussed as to why Katrina and Rita were unjustly revised in their true landfalling intensities based SOLELY on wind speeds alone.

In short, there is a reason why we (I have actually done NWS damage surveys, so I know first hand) use the Fujita tornado scale to estimate wind damage and the NWS does take into consideration all variables to include how well the buildings were constructed before assigning a rating for those areas.

Therefore, the F-2 and borderline F-3 damage that was so widespread and extensive is extremely relevant in trying to best estimate the actual WINDS since the anemometers in these areas were disabled well before they could record the ACTUAL peak winds.

Likewise, the barometric pressure is still relevant as well, especially in cases like Katrina when there was difficulty obtaining the sustained winds from both radar out of Slidell, La. and the destroyed anemometers on the ground.

You have to remember that one must take into account the verifiable surrounding pressures and the measured barometric pressure in the storm and determine the magnitude of the pressure gradient as just simply one tool along with ALL the aforementioned to accurately access a storms true intensity absent reliable data from Recon flights and Doppler radar as was the case with Katrina.

In short, I respectfully disagree with you about your suggestion that barometric pressure as well as the fujita tornado damage scale have no relevancy regarding such storms like Katrina, where there was no true verifiable data to accurately obtain her true intensity.

As a result, we have to use all of the aforementioned to subjectively determine the best estimated landfalling intensity or otherwise flip a coin or play innie minnie mighty moe to figure out what categorization is most appropriate.

You think it is possible that we all could respectfully state our opinions without the sarcasm?

I for one think it would be nice.:)


Hey Colby,

It is ironic that you decide to sarcastically make a comment about how irrelevant the Fujita damage scale and the storms actual measured barometric pressure and then follow with a post about how the storm doesn't "look" like a category 3 to you.

Are you suggesting it is better to simply just estimate the intensity by looking at it and ignore the storms verified barometric pressure and the wind damage it caused in the absence of reliable data?

Of course you aren't.

That being said, the official WIND data listed in my blog I just created, clearly shows to me at least that both storms were given too low an intensity based on winds alone.


Hey Colby,

By the way, just for the record, I don't personally think that we will ever see a 218 mb category four with 155 mph winds that does F-5 tornado damage from those winds.

Hey Colby,

Please excuse the sarcasm for I was simply showing how unnecessary such comments truly are in making ones point.:)

I respect your right to disagree and you could be right in your assessment of Ritas true intensity. However, my interpreatation of the data suggests to me only that she was definately a category three at landfall with winds more in the 120-125 mph range rather than a weak 115 mph category three or even a category two as you apparently believe.

There is no harm in agreeing to disagree respectfully.:)


Keys NWS new office in the Keys, is built to with stand a cat 5 & they allow tourists in.
The Zeta report I downloaded yesterday had a "1" indicating a footnote at the end of the first sentence (after "basin") & had what I wrote at the bottom of the page. It is gone now.

Has anyone else noted that there are problems with the Gamma report? For example, the text states that Gamma started moving to the SE on Nov. 20 but the map shows it moving NW on the 20th & turning SE on the 21st. Also Fig. 1 shows the minimum pressure of 1002mb at noon on the 20th but Fig. 3 shows it at noon on the 19th.

I don't know if it's the same elsewhere but a local broadcast station is supposed to show the episode of Stargate Atlantis with the superhurricane today (start of a 2 part story).
What if they rated hurricanes by both wind and spread? Like when Rita was a cat. 3 (just before landfall) with hurricane force winds extending 85mi from center, it would be a cat 3.85.205. Beta was also a cat. 3 just before land fall, but would have been a 3.15.60.
Colby, for once I am with you on something..LOL
I totally agree with you on Rita. Just look at the radar and satelite signature about 12 hours before landfall, how can nayone deny that. I remember I was up all night with Rita's landfall on WU. The next few days everyone was tearing into me because I said it was a Weak 3, Strong 2. Noone believed me..LOL. Its nice to know I wasnt crazy!!
*anyone..Now if only I can learn to type..Ha Ha!!
And also, the same could be said about Katrina's satelite appearance before landfall, which lead to its slight weakening. And also, for people to say this is political or its about insurance companies is totally absurd. Cmon guys..LOL
Hey Bob and Colby,

I have been reviewing the radar signatures, data in the archives, etc. during the past couple of hours and I am leaning more toward the operationally assessed intensity of a 120 mph category 3 at landfall.

Naturally, this is simply my opinion and earlier I was leaning toward 125 mph sustained.

However, further objective review suggests I may have been just a little generous, but it definitely wasn't a category two no matter what data we analyze and the radar signature is consistent with a marginal category three.

Moreover, the eyewall and outer rain bands became slightly better defined just prior to landfall.

Anyways, I hope both of you have a wonderful weekend.


Hey Bob,

We can certainly respectfully agree to disagree for the data and radar signatures were far more impressive with Katrina at landfall and she was not only a marginal category three in my personal opinion, and there is no reasonable meterological rationale for the downgrade to such a low intensity.


Have a goodnight Bob...you know I love you man, even when we occasionally disagree.(lol):)
Yes, Katrina's radar signature was more impressive then Rita's. I agree more with the NHC assesment on Rita then Katrina. I think we will never know the real truth about Katrina's winds because alot of data was lost right at landfall.
Hey Bob,

Honestly, I couldn't agree with you more Bob on your assessment of Katrina and we really aren't that far off on Rita's landfall intensity.:)

That has to be an indication that I am getting just a little smarter and there may be hope for me just yet (lol).:)

Ok, my last post for the night and I do hope you have a wonderful weekend and please know that I am sincerely keeping you in my prayers.:)


I was saying I was suprised the NHC didn't have it as a Cat 2 - they tend to underrate, IMO.

I'd say 115 is correct, though.
Australia is going to get whacked by Tropical Cyclone Larry (65 kts, 976 mb) within the next day.

See, I'm not gonna buy 65kt with that satellite presentation.
You are right, it is actually a Category 4 on the Australian scale, and Australia's advisory says that it's pressure is 935 mb:

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 4:51pm on Sunday the 19th of March 2006

A Tropical Cyclone WARNING is now current for coastal and island communities
from Cape Tribulation to Mackay, and extending to inland areas about Croydon,
Greenvale and Charters Towers.

A Tropical Cyclone Watch extends inland to near the Normanton area.

At 4 pm AEST Sunday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, category 4 with central
pressure 935 hectopascals, was centred in the Coral Sea near latitude 17.6 south
and longitude 149.7 east, about 390 km east of Innisfail. The cyclone is
expected to intensify further, and move in a general westerly direction at about
25 km/h over the next 24 hours. The centre of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry is
likely to be near the Queensland coast early Monday morning.
Australia says a Category 4 at 935 mb, while JTWC says 65 kt:

I say that Australia is right.
Tropical Cyclone Larry is even stronger now:

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 7:50pm on Sunday the 19th of March 2006

A Tropical Cyclone WARNING is now current for coastal and island communities
from Cape Tribulation to Mackay, and extending to inland areas about Croydon,
Greenvale and Charters Towers.

A Tropical Cyclone Watch extends inland to near the Normanton area.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry poses a very serious threat to life and property
and hourly warnings will now commence.

At 7 pm AEST Sunday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Category 4 with central
pressure 925 hectopascals, was centred in the Coral Sea near latitude 17.6 south
and longitude 149.0 east, about 315 km east of Innisfail. The cyclone is
expected to intensify further, and move in a general westerly direction at about
25 km/h over the next 24 hours.

Link to BOM Warnings
It may be a Cat 4 on the Aussie scale, but it's not the Saffir-Simspon scale. I made the same mistake earlier this year. Cat 3 is a minimal hurricane in down under. There scale is different, not excactly sure the details on it, but thier Cat1 is our weak TS. Cat 2 is a strong TS. Cat 3 is a weak hurricane. Cat 4 is a stronger hurricane, and Cat 5 is an intense hurricane.

All in all, JTWC is always very conservative. Right now they still say it's a 90 kt storm. I wouldnt be suprised if it's really 110-115 kts strong.
The warnings mention 280 kmph (175 mph) gusts, so Larry is still very strong, and will make landfall in several hours:

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 12:47am on Monday the 20th of March 2006

A Tropical Cyclone WARNING is now current for coastal and island communities
from Cape Tribulation to Mackay, and extending to inland to near Normanton.

A Tropical Cyclone Watch has now been extended onto the southeast coast of the
Gulf of Carpentaria.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry poses a VERY SERIOUS THREAT to life and property
in the warning area.

At 12.30 am AEST Monday, Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Category 4 with central
pressure 925 hectopascals, was centred in the Coral Sea near latitude 17.5 south
and longitude 147.7 east, about 175 km east of Innisfail. The cyclone is
expected to continue to move in a general westerly direction TOWARDS THE COAST
at about 25 km/h.

approximately 280 km/hr should cross the coast between INNISFAIL and MISSION
BEACH between 7am and 9am MONDAY MORNING. DESTRUCTIVE winds are expected to
commence along the coast between INGHAM and PORT DOUGLAS early MONDAY MORNING.
GALES are already being experienced along the exposed coast in the warning area.

Coastal residents between Cairns and Townsville are specifically warned of the
dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast. The sea is likely to
steadily rise up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide,
with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending
some way inland. People living in areas should be prepared to evacuate if
advised by authorities.

A preliminary flood warning has been issued for coastal rivers and streams
between Innisfail and Mackay.

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry, Category 4, for 12.30 am AEST Monday
Central Pressure : 925 Hectopascals
Location of Centre : within 20 kilometres of
latitude 17.5 degrees south
longitude 147.7 degrees east
about 175 kilometres east of Innisfail
Recent Movement : West at 25 kilometres per hour
Destructive winds : out to 120 kilometres from the centre
Maximum wind gusts : 280 kilometres per hour

People in the path of this VERY DANGEROUS CYCLONE should stay calm and remain in
a secure shelter - above the expected water level - while the very destructive

winds continue. Do not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the
cyclone - very destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any
time. Follow the evacuation advice or directions of Police or State Emergency
Service personnel.

People over inland areas in the Gulf Country between Normanton and Burketown in
the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria should consider what action they will need to
take if the cyclone threat increases.

The next warning will be issued at 2 am AEST Monday.

This warning is also available through TV and Radio Broadcasts; the Bureau's
website at www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 212. The Bureau and the State
Emergency Service would appreciate this warning being broadcast regularly.

BOM Link
Also, the UW-CIMSS's AODT says that Larry is at 127 kt (although this is not very reliable; just a few weeks ago, it said that a dissipating tropical depression (official from JTWC) was a 75 kt typhoon).
Interesting: this chart shows that the pressure of 925 mb given by Australia means that Larry is a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
I'd beleive it MichaelSTL; That's an impressive looking storm. I would not be surprised if it is still intensifying. Warm waters and favorable conditions for the time being, even though windshear is starting to increase according to Sat Direved Winds. It's probably going to be very bad for whoever is in Larry's way.
I've posted a blog on Larry and will be updating throughout the day.
>>I'd beleive it MichaelSTL; That's an impressive looking storm. I would not be surprised if it is still intensifying. Warm waters and favorable conditions for the time being, even though windshear is starting to increase according to Sat Direved Winds. It's probably going to be very bad for whoever is in Larry's way.<<

Thankfully, there is not much in Larry's way. A few sugar plantations, a few thousand people in a few communities. It's splitting the uprights between Cairns and Townsville...thankfully, not impacting either larger urban area.

Not much except my dad's family lol. This is really scary.
North Texas got ~5 inches of rain. Highlight:

"There are houses that have water coming in them, and there are cars that are submerged" across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan. He said at least two high water rescues were reported in Arlington but authorities had not received word of weather-related injuries.
atmosweather i think you got mail
By The Numbers: Fema Recovery Update In Louisiana

I also ran across this, a repeat of the year before: FEMA Wants Some Relief Payments Back

Looks like Kauai might be back on for more rain...
that 2nd link again
What's wrong with this picture:

WTPS31 PGTW 200300
200000Z --- NEAR 17.7S 145.4E

REPEAT POSIT: 17.7S 145.4E
201200Z --- 18.1S 142.8E
210000Z --- 18.5S 141.0E
200300Z POSITION NEAR 17.8S 144.8E.
200900Z, 201500Z AND 202100Z. REFER TO TROPICAL CYCLONE 18P (WATI)


100kt winds is not dissipating!
Larry now dying overland, a swirl of breaking clouds. Innisfail, Australia, lies in ruins, from what I can find.
If Waialeale is the second-weetest spot on the planet after a spot in the Himalayas of India, there is a spot on Queensland at roughly the same elevation of Kauai's second-highest peak (5,100 ft.) that supposedly is the fifth wettest spont on Earth after Colombia and Cameroon...Bellenden Ker, where over a 9 year period averaged 340 inches. I wonder what the wettest spot in the lower 48 states is...probably somewhere in the Olympics of Washington State or in the coast range of northern Oregon? I wouldn't be surprised if the wettest spot in Alaska is around Ketchikan. Seems like it's always raining up there.

I had no idea Queensland is so wet...maybe this was an extraordinary nine year period?