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Rita making landfall as a weak Catgeory 3

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 9:07 PM GMT on September 23, 2005

Rita is making landfall near Port Arthur, TX, as a weak Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. There is nothing weak at all about any major hurricane, and it definitely a bad night to be holed up in your house or shelter listening to the awesome destruction unleased by this powerful hurricane. Radar shows some very intense echoes in the northern eyewall smashing into the coast, and infrared satellite imagery confirms the presence of extremely cold cloud tops in the northern eyewall. It appears that the interaction of the eyewall with land is producing extra surface convergence of winds that is forcing up some strong updrafts, creating very high thunderstorm tops.

Where will Rita go?
Most of the latest model runs show Rita making a anti-cyclonic loop over northeastern Texas and central Louisiana, then perhaps heading back south to punish the landfall area five days from now. She may even move back over the waters of the Gulf. She would no longer be a tropical cyclone at that point, and redevelopment is not expected.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Tropical Depression Philippe has being absorbed into a large non-tropical low pressure system near Bermuda. This system is expected to move little the next three days, and may develop into a tropical depression. A well-organized tropical disturbance near 11N 33W, off the coast of Africa, has a surface circulation and some deep convection. This system has the potential for development the next few days as it moves westward over the mid-Atlantic. Long range models indicate that this disturbance will likely recurve to the northeast when it reaches the mid-Atlantic Ocean.

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

1001. ozgeo
Whooo U guys having all the fun......Ozz is too quiet .....but love the commentary....Keep safe guys.... our turn for this comes in Jan Feb each year can't wait!!!!
1002. elrod
CNN says a roof collapsed at the Holiday Inn in Galveston. Didn't somebody say Geraldo went into that hotel.
1003. ed2800
What Whiskey?...ill have some myself
Got plenty...but do you want to walk 5 miles through a hurricane? LOL
Remek, I guess they brough Carl Sagan back from the dead to give the last recon report. : ) If I'm not mistaken thats Canadian technology.
1006. Carbo04
LOL, you guys are hilarious. i'll be back in an hour.
Yeah, there's really no point to what they're doing. Kudos for the effort, but the amount of water falling out of the sky exceed what they can put on it. Better to hang back and protect downwind buildings from sparks.

Don't learn too much about hurricanes here in SoCal, but I've watched more firemen fighting fires in 60MPH winds than I could add up. Been damn close to them too. Our guys don't bother when the winds are that high - it's really pointless - just protect what isn't yet burning.
good one cosmic
Robert I guess that makes you the minority? I think your state is going have to fess up to lot of things? Which the white folks done? I think we have a president that dont like blacks either or hispanic or poor whites.
Young lady. When I was your age I had to walk FIFTY miles in a hurricane every day uphill both ways just to get to the outhouse! OF COURSE I'll walk!
johnson - I've only seen those fires on film or tv, never in person....but I've seen hurricanes firsthand and I think the fires scare me much more. The wind they make is crazy.

It seems to me, those buildings are gone. They just look exciting blowing in the wind. That might be worth mentioning, but not worth staying on it.
1013. franck
pseabury..sure, I believe you, just seemed too stupid to be true.
Geraldo's in trouble. Stuck on the side of a motel 3 ft. above sea level, with a 15 foot storm surge headed his way.
Also...he'll be in part of the eyewall and experiencing gusts over 150MPH.
But....he just signed up with GEICO. He's saving 15% on his auto insurance.

Geraldo is currently stationary, but a general SE motion of 50-100 mph is expected to resume in the next few minutes
There isn't a spot in Port Arthur that more than 6 feet above sea level.
1017. Canenut
The new 0Z GFS no longer stalls Rita over Texas, but has it moving NE rather rapidly.

Also I'm getting sick of the words "hunker down" but in case your wondering the Oxford English Dictionary has a fine description of how to hunker: squat, with the haunches, knees, and ankles acutely bent, so as to bring the hams near the heels, and throw the whole weight upon the fore part of the feet
if there no Recon out there how would we no what is going on in there and i say that it is a cat 4 with 140mph or 150mph
Geraldo has been spotted by a spy satellite playing with some dolphins. It seems that they are letting the waves toss him up and they are trying to catch him. I would think he is getting to old for such foolishness.
Firefighters may be trying to prevent the fires from speading...not trying to save those buildings. If they had a so called mandatory evacuation in Galveston, they should have cut the power. Speculation that it may have been a downed line that did this.
1022. Scotth
You forgot the last part Canenut.....the part where you place your head between your legs so you can kiss your butt goodbye
Canenut....if CatChaser is truly in Abbeyville....I'm sure he's assuming the "hunker down" position as we speak.
CosmicEvents, that reminds me. I saw the new Geico hurricane ad today. It's just like the totally fake Allstate ad, with people in RVs giving out toy geckos instead of bears.
LOL Sub.....I must be typing in too high of a voice.
Going to get my beer and cigar.

The "NHC forecast about cat 1 landfall" was part of my joke about the NHC being taken over by insurance reps, and I gave a parody 11PM NHC discussion. The timing of this joke was good because the idea about there being a bit of leverage from the insurance companies with the government (of which the NHC is part) was gaining some momentum--the idea having been to purposely keep the official intensity estimates low so the insurance companies could claim unsound foundation instead of actual storm damage and thus save money.

However...I don't think I believe this idea, though it is very interesting. The problem with it is as follows: if it is really true, many NHC people, who actually do know quite a bit about this stuff, would end up quitting and spilling the beans. There isn't really coercion in that place--so the real story would become known fairly quickly. But...we're still left with the loss of trying to explain why the NHC intensity "estimates" have been 10-15% low, sometimes more, during the entirety of this storm. I feel I have a reasonably good understanding of satellite intensity estimates, as well as their correlation with water temperatures, latitude, etc. into the accuracy of such predictions, and I'm at a loss to explain why, scientifically, the wind estimates have been so low, in spite of contrary data from many completely independent methods.

Nonetheless...we should be careful of conspiracy theories, and when they form, try to find good ways to refute them--only then will they become stronger if they have a sound basis, and only then will we eliminate garbage theories before they cause too much time to be wasted.
cnn..."it's getting increasingly rainy and windy here"

eye seems to be wobbling a little more west now.
where can you get the latest t numbers for Rita?
StSimons, My wife came in and said the same thing. Our power is always cut when the wind reaches some predetermined ppoint.
latest t-numbers can be found at http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/odt/odt3.html
1032. franck
Does this blog get weird and hysterical like this often?
Any more info on this westward wobble? I'm in Houston and want to know if we really dodged the bullet, or if it's just slow in getting here.
I've been in Cat 1 and 2 hurricanes. Been close to some tornados. Been in Mag 6.x earthquakes. Blizzards, ice storms, wildfires, riots (twice), transit and garbage strikes.

The fires are the scariest. Laguna fire came within a few hundred yards of us. The hurricane was next, then the earthquake, then tornado.

The fires were at night and the entire ridge above us lit up at once. You could see little tornados of fire - maybe a few hundred feet high. There's ash and embers falling on you. It's hard to see because it flies in your eyes. It smells like a campfire, and there's a 40MPH wind blowing that's 20-30 degrees warmer than the air - maybe blowing 100-110 degrees and dry as can be. And this entire wall of fire is coming right at you. And it takes a while, so you get to ponder it.

The hurricanes are similar, but I never felt like I was in danger there. Yeah, the house might rip apart, but we were very likely to survive. The fire gives you the clear sense that there's no surviving it if you can't get out of the way.

Tornados are small and fast. Earthquakes are big and fast. Not much time to worry about it - its here and gone and then you clean up. By the time you get around to thinking about dying then it's over.

The most unpleasant were the ice storms - days and days with no heat or electricity. Ugh.
weird...yes, only during hurricane landfall
thanks atmos!
Franck....no it does not. Personally......knowing that these storms HAVE to hit somewhere.....I'm happy that it's not as bad as it could have been....on a macro level. Thus....I can allow myself to inject some humor into tragedy. Apparantly others feel the same.
I wonder what the highest gusts and sustained winds reported are?
SaymoBEEL - Sorry about that. I was responding to Geismargirl. I should have said that. But do enjoy!
1041. P682
Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. America, as well as all ships at sea!
See ya'll in the funny papers...
1042. Manny
The last GFS run sends it to the NE but then around the ridge and back into the Gulf.
trish houston is probably ok, Rita was heading due north earlier, and will probably wobble north again in a while. Best not to worry to much about an hour's movement.
Either downed power line or broken gas line.
Its not laughing at the people or the situation, its finding humor in a situation. Huge difference. Trust me, hurricanes are nerve-racking. You find a release however you can.

I think for all of us who have been though our share, even if were not in the middle of Rita, we know what our neighbors in Louisiana and Texas are facing, not just tonight but during the miserable aftermath.

If you cant make light of it all, youll go nuts.
Franck, about this time at night...Yep
1047. Canenut
The high altitude NOAA jet is decending rapidly on the NE side of the storm -4000' in 3 minutes.
Thanks, StSimon, what's with the huge red explosion in the southwest quarter? Does that have any relation to the supposed west shift?
Again it looks like it's falling apart.
True franck, normally this blog is always at least Category 1 in weird and hysterical levels...LOL
sustained winds in baton rouge at 33 mph...feeling it...not liking it...
johnson - yeah that's crazy. I don't think I'd feel all that good about myself if I had to "hunker down" under one of those foild blankets either.

Looks like Rita's still making some pretty cold convection on the N-NW side of core.

Sarah, extremely true
i live in south orlando, and experienced three strong hurricanes within 6 weeks last year
sometimes u have to relax and forget about the worst and try and feel better about the situation. losing power for days at a time is awful, but u still have to survive it somehow!
Yeah it gets wacky or serious (most of time both) depending on the night, But later it gets the worse.
Searched for west wobble. Didn't see it. Actually thought there might have been a NNE wobble. But, I've been wrong before. SHHHHH Don't tell anybody.
Hang in there Geismargirl *tink*
1057. Scotth
Well, goodnight all, from Pennsylvania. I'll watch the rest on TV. Maybe Steph's on! Prayers to all in the path. Stay safe.
The westward jog is partly due to the convection wrapping around--keep in mind there is a lot of mass in those types of features, and so since momentum must be conserved, if that comes toward the west, there will be an eastward jog and then a westward jog as things get wrapped around.
Has it stalled?
saymo, your secret is safe with me.
walk faster...I'm still waiting!!! Tink Tink
True Sarah.
Wow...consistent tropical storm force winds still in Baton Rouge. I've also seen flashes of lightning.
I was just looking at the Lake Charles Radar: Base Reflectivity Short Range Loop; It looks like it has moved very little in the last hour.
"police activity in downtown houston" - FOX
could it be the uncovering of the secret bunker?
Nite scotth. And seriously... bring plywood.
Fox just spent 10 minutes on a fender bender.
Geraldo put himself right in the bullseye
Different people deal with it differently. My wife really panics during earthquakes, so I start cracking jokes immediately - just to show her that it's okay, that we can be level-headed through this. It really pisses her off, but she calms down a LOT to get to be pissed off, so it does the trick.

It's easy to let these events get the better of you. I appreciate all the people that step up for these events and worry about those that are at risk and the jokes don't diminish that - it's how some people cope.
Secret bunker? Did they find a modified Nintindo 64 with a broken controller and a hurricane on the display?
1071. Remek
Rita's either getting temporary bursts from the warm shallow water at the coast, or feeding off the oil and gas rigs as she destroys them. ;)

That's another thing - once she finally gets to land, that area of the Gulf could end up being one giant oil slick. (and that's not funny)
on the lake charles radar link Jeff our Masters supplied to us, there's a storm (c7) with 114kt winds
1073. LSULady
ditto on the lightning, Cone. Amazing!
Dr. Masters has a new post.
1075. Scotth
Maybe a mobile home's not such a good idea. Maybe a houseboat. Yeah! Waterfront Property!
Really looks like it's slowing down on the radar.
Report from Lake Charles is that all power is gone. All data to our local stations from Lake Charles and Lafayette is gone.
How are you doing there Geismargirl? Winds still about the same?
lol scotth. That might just be the ticket.
Man, we just got a serious gust. Sounded like a plane flying over the house. Lasted a little longer than the previous gusts. The lights are flickering every now and then. Hopefully we can keep the power on through this one.
1081. LALady

So glad to hear from you, my brother is here in Denham Springs, LA with us...he is from Pearland. He wishes now that he would have stayed in Pearland because we are getting hammered right now with HUGE gusts of wind/rain.

Please keep us update on the conditions there. We would really appreciate it!