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Rita still holding steady

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:25 AM GMT on September 23, 2005

There are no major changes to report tonight on Rita's situation. The pressure continues to hold steady in the 913 - 917 mb range, which is very low, considering she is going through a long eyewall replacement cycle. The hurricane force winds have expanded out to 80 miles, which is still quite a bit less than Katrina's 120 miles. I expect that the area of extreme storm surge from Rita will be less than Katrina's, since Rita is a smaller storm.

Rita's eyewall replacement cycle is almost complete, and we may see some slight strengthening Friday morning. By Friday evening, slight to moderate weakening may occur until landfall Saturday. This will occur as a result of 10 knots of shear on her south side from an upper-level high pressure system, and from passage over ocean waters with less heat content. By landfall time on Saturday afternoon, I still expect that Rita will be a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, but still carry to the coast a storm surge characteristic of a much stronger hurricane. A Category 4 or 5 level storm surge is likely along a 40 - 60 miles stretch of coast to the right of where the storm makes landfall on Saturday. Storm surge heights will peak at 15 - 20 feet in some bays, and bring the ocean inland up to 50 miles from the coast. Large sections of I-10 between Houston and Beaumont could be inundated, and the flood waters may reach the cities of Beaumont, Orange, and Lake Charles.

Figure 1. Expected inland penetration of a Category 5 level hurricane storm surge. Only areas along and to the right of Rita's landfall point may get a Category 5 storm surge. If Rita makes landfall east of Galveston, Houston and Galveston will not see the storm surge flooding shown here.

Current buoy measurements
NOAA buoy 42001 in Rita's western eyewall measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 112 mph, and 34 foot waves at 2:50 pm CDT. A time series plot of the wind and pressure from buoy 42001 is worth checking out. Winds are starting to fall now as Rita moves away. The buoy did not quite make it into the eye of the strongest part of the eyewall.

Where will Rita go?
The 18Z (2pm EDT) computer models are more tightly clustered than before, focusing on a point just west of the Texas/Louisiana border. It is still too early to tell what will happen after landfall, as the models all take Rita different ways. It is heartening to see that the GFS model is no longer taking Rita back out to sea and hitting Brownsville! Regardless, it appears that a major rainwater flooding disaster will ensue after Rita's landfall, with 10 - 30 inches of rain falling over a large area.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Tropical Storm Philippe is a minimal tropical storm heading out to sea, and is not a threat to any land areas. The ITCZ is growing more active tonight, and there may be an area of development to watch in the mid-Atlantic by tomorrow.

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

Orleans77 this is, uh, strange. Is it possible more people will die in the evac that would have dies in the hurricane? This is like Grayhound's version of the Hindenberg.

If you are old and/or frail please don't go live in areas that are prone to frequent and deadly natural disaters. We cannot guaranttee your safety if you choose to live in these areas. Thank you.
weather...it is a tragedy...now 24 dead according to dallas fire marshall
WW, LOL I think he really could have (maybe did) measured Katrinas storm surge.
88889 - Rita has been over some really juicy watre for the last 8 hours. In that time she has not shown any desire to strenghten. There is some dry air that found its way into Rita and there is also some sheer.

The latest satellite pic actually shows the best convestion and eyewall formation in some time but we need to wait for a few more pics to see if it actually a trend.
many evacuess stuck on highways are returning home to houston...also apparently 25,000 on galeveston refuse to evacuate...if rita hits galveston we will have a large loss of life
Which link do you use for the most recent sat loops?
houston mayor is advising resident that have not yet left to stay put and ride out the storm...they are worried about people getting stuck on the roads...
i believe we will still see some strengthening today
888888888888, I think Ben Stein needs to put a few drops in Rita's eye W-O-W.
Rita's eye is looking very ragged at the moment and dry air has entered into the storm, two things that should help it to weaken.....the winds should come down at 11am........130mph or less.......I know that the NHC doesnt like to do bring it down unless they have to.......see if they mention they computer satellite models that forecast intensity.....TAFB and DVORACK.....anyways....it looks better for everyone that she is weakening, hope it keeps up.....there will still be a very good storm surge, so rita will still be a formable storm no matter what.......
Usually I use Tropical RAMSDIS OnLine but theya re having some issues with sat zoom. Otherwise I jsut use the GOES Floater and watch cnn
what a Ben Stein
I just heard the levee at the 9th ward in New Orleans just broke.
514. elrod
Hasn't the storm already begun to track northward? Are you saying it will jog back west? I predict landfall winds at 135 mph just west of Port Arthur.
cajunlibby, where did you hear that?
yeah but also deeper convection showing
cajun,.,where did u hear that?
518. SEFL
"also apparently 25,000 on galeveston refuse to evacuate...if rita hits galveston we will have a large loss of life"

Orleans77 where do you get this info? Population of Galveston is about 60,000. The last report I heard was that it was 90% evacuated.
Local news in Baton Rouge
WeatherboyFSU, Do you think there will be a more northerly turn or she will continue on the current path?
i still think landfall will be galeveston not port arthur
522. elrod
NOLA says there is "seepage" along the levees by the 9th ward. www.nola.com has photos.
mayor said thqat 10% did not evac..im sorry i was under impression that galveston had 250K pop....my error and apology then...10% of 60 is 6000 then,...
Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin'
I still see her dark eye glowin'
I stick by my origianl predition of cat 3 TX/LA border.

Rita is losing some strength.
526. elrod
Sorry, that's the Times-Picayune. NOLA is the website.

I think the northern jog is a result of the eyewall replacement cycle--I don't think it's real.

If the said levee broke in New Orleans, that's not as bad as it sounds--keep in mind that the city doesn't have people in it--supposedly the ones who came back have been reevacuated.

I think the northern jog is a result of the eyewall replacement cycle--I don't think it's real.

If the said levee broke in New Orleans, that's not as bad as it sounds--keep in mind that the city doesn't have people in it--supposedly the ones who came back have been reevacuated.
CNN, MSNBC, NO WWLTV web site all have nothing on ward 9 levee breal
Its anyones guess.....Rita will most likely hit at the border......50 miles either side....and I personally would be leaning toward the right side.....another thing that is very possible is that she could slow down and drift earlier than anticipated......It will be interesting to see.....but Rita has definitely weakened.....there is no doubt in my mind that her winds have dropped......whether the NHC will drop them or not is a different story....they have the responibility to keep people out of harms way.....yada yada yada......everyone be safe.......
531. SEFL
Now reporting on Fox News that water going into 9th ward in New Orleans. They are calling it seepage.
its on right now on msnbc about a breach in the levee
930mb reported on MSNBC news
24 confirmed dead on the dallas bus
8888888888, The guy with the red and white beach ball. He has a monotone voice. Gets the red out. W-O-W. VISINE I think.
536. elrod
"Seepage" will probably get worse along the levee, but damage to people will be minimal. Just a big engineering (and cost) setback, mostly.
Know what you mean, WBFSU
oh ok what dos that mean?
I was listening to Ed Rappaport earlier today and he was saying in the scheme of things, this is a normal pattern that develops every 20-40 yrs... The reason we notice it now is because we have built entire cities along the paths of these hurricanes. He said there is a much greater risk in the coming years for potentially bigger hurricanes than this..

Scary sh*t
540. elrod
Bush heading for Texas now. I'm sure that will really expedite evacuation procedures...
So whats the probability of this thing dumping rain in Dallas?
Ben's Info and pic
PLease let's have some clarity regarding inland penetration of storm surge. re map on wu blog.
Case in point, NASA Johnson center Houston.
I looked it up on Terraserver, finally find countour lines showing it at or near 25 foot level. Even tho it may not be jeopardized now, I think it is a good example.
With the large surge from Katrina, how far inland--regardless of height above sea level--did it penetrate?
Anyone have a site that would show this?
And yes, i have seen NASA photos of Biloxi/Gulfport.

Some people could get an incorrect impression of how far inland surge goes. Yes mosst probably need to evacuate anyway just on basis of winds.
Yes, certain geographic features eg inlets, creeks etc could take surge far above coast. I am just interested in a of what happened with Katrina and and what is likely to happen with Rita, devoid of EXTREMES that could be misinterpreted by media. Thanks
OK, we've made it through 538 posts without disintegrating into the endless global warming and political rants of the last thread.

There is a killer hurricane approaching the TX/LA coast. Let's stick to that topic. This blog is a vital source of information for those affected.
when dos the new vortex be out
547. Remek
hoochbear at 1:47 PM GMT on September 23, 2005.

PLease let's have some clarity regarding inland penetration of storm surge. re map on wu blog.
Case in point, NASA Johnson center Houston.

NASA study: NASA JSC Visual Impact of a Category 4 Storm
Amen gbundersea! I came to this site to get hurricane information.

Not to read political talking points.
Might I suggest that any conspiracy theorist create their own blog to discuss malcontent?
Many folks come here for good information.

And always remember: Hide from the WIND, RUN from the water!
Well, haven't been able to post in the last couple of days due to evac preps and actually getting out. Decided to hole up with friends in manufacturing warehouse owned by one of them up by Hobby airport (built to withstand 150mph winds just last year).

The evac of the areas south of where I live (League City) went faster than I expected - by Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. the minor highway in front of my house (State Highway 3) was a ghost road - very few cars (as compared to earlier, when it was a crawl nearly all day long). The Gulf Freeway, too, was deserted.

We got here yesterday morning from our marshalling point in Webster in about 15 minutes (even on a holiday morning, it would normally take you 30 minutes or so). It is eerie - no cars on the roads anywhere down in SE Harris/NE Galveston counties. Last evening we went back to Webster to a friends bar to raid the Ice Machine to restock our ice, and it was surreal. Did see a few cars on the road, mostly looking for gas. Passed neighborhoods that were completely dark, as if the power were out, save for the streetlights (this was at 7:00 p.m., right after sunset).

While going over there, could see the high tops of Rita off to the SE still illuminated by the sun. You really get a feel for the power of the storm when you see cloud tops that are still some 300 or so miles away.

As for this morning, we are still sunny. We've had some outflow start passing overhead, and there is now a breeze coming from the east. Without my toys (which I had to leave home) I'd guess we're seeing about 5mph steady with a few higher gusts.

Last evening, I finally got online again using my cell-phone but could not access the WU. But, I was doing my own prognistacating
i would like to no why did hurrican katrina have winds of 175mb with a 902 mb and why dos hurrican rita have winds of 175mph with a 897 mb any one no on that one?



img src="http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/archdat/tropical_cyclones/tc05/ATL/18L.RITA/ir/geo/1km/20050923.1245.goes12.x.ir1km.18LRITA.120kts-927mb-271N-915W.jpg" width="600" height="600
hmmm, if the eye isn't jogging west, the circle of storms sure is.

Perry >>>> Blanco
I see where someone posted the specific spot that it is predicted the storm will stall and dump massive amounts of rain. Near Linden Texas, close to Shreveport and Texarkana.
Can anyone predict the other conditions that will accompany that amount of rainfall? Would you expect very high winds during that stall, or is it very weakened and just dumping on us?
I'm in a trailer just right there in that area.. I'll probably evac to a nice strong structure if its going to be high winds.. but no one is even touching on what may happen in this area. (25 w of Texarkana)