portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting united states


High uncertainty in Rita's track

Dynamic conditions make Rita a concern to areas from the Mexican to Mississippi borders.
Rita Track Friday Sept 23 2005
Rita Track Friday Sept 23 2005
Pressure Sept 23 2005
Pressure Sept 23 2005
Since early Thursday morning the situation in the Gulf has changed si9gnificantly in that now the track for Hurricane Rita includes a high degree of uncertainty as to where landfall might take place in the next day and half. The tracking graphic includes a large ciruclar area which shows this degree of uncertainty with an enclosed cone of probability showing the most probable track which ccontinues to shift eastward towards Louisiana. The situtation is consistent with that predicted early in the week by the GFDL computer model, which at that time was predicting a strike in Louisiana to the west of New Orleans.
for a look at this predicted GFDL track see the page

The computer models now display a degree of confusion as to where Rita might turn next, with one model even predicting a sudden turn south into Mexico, and at another extreme, a second model is predicting a strike to the West of New Orleans, with three other models predicting strikes close to Houston and Galveston.

The reason for this uncertainty can be seen in the pressure graphic. The High pressure ridge has continued to move Eastward as predicted earlier in the week by GFDL model. This ridge prevents Rita from tracking northward, and as consequence Rita has been following a path around this ridge. Similarly, an area of high pressure sits over Mexico, which keeps Rita tracking to the North. However there is no clear guidance for the storm along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, thus resulting in the uncertainty in the track. As well there is some shear evident in the South East corner of Rita, which has resulted in Rita weakening from a catagory four to a catagory five storm during Thursday, although this area of sheer has been shrinking over the course of the day, and looks like it might become absorbed into the storm, thus allowing Rita to strengthen once again, since it does not look like there is any other prospect for sheer in the area, since the low pressure area in the Pacific is being blocked by the High Pressure in Mexico. This could become a concern if Rita begins to wander or loop, thus giving the shearing effect time to disappear before Rita makes landfall.

The low pressure area over Texas has now been pulled North and is being absorbed into a trough over Eastern Canada, and depending on how fast this occurs, and whether Rita does some of that looping or wandering, could give the High pressure ridge over the Mid West a chance to move East, thus steering Rita towards the East, and resulting in a hit near New Orleans.or Mississippi, since as you can see this is currently the Eastern boundary of the high pressure Ridge over the South East which marks the boundary for where Rita can track to the East.

Currently Rita is projected to plow through an area densely packed with off shore rigs, and also refineries which are resonsible for one quarter of America's petroleum. However, it is worth considering that America, with 5 percent of the world's population, consumes 25 per cent of the pertroleum used in the world, so even such a loss as one quarter one would think should be manageable, and might even spur a growing consciousness of conservation and result in changing habits to bring American consumption more in line with that typical of places such as Europe (and America could even approach energy self sufficiency, but this would require an analysis of why it is that Americans are so profligate in their consumption of fuel.
worst case scenario 23.Sep.2005 01:19


In the worst case scenario Rita becomes one of those 'wandering Hurricanes' with no firm guidance, just like Ophelia was a couple of weeks ago, and thus goes wandering and looping through the western Gulf destroying Oil Rigs, before finally the High pressure ridge in the Midwest slams Rita into Louisiana and Mississippi again. Something to consider. Time will tell.

another bad scenario 23.Sep.2005 02:05


Rita continues to head North West, but as the mid west low pressure system gets pulled up into Canada, this allows the High Pressure system over Mexico to begin to move east...This then causes Rita to change direction and pushes Rita eastward while still offshore, causing her to plow through all those oil rigs on the Gulf coast (which are concentrated off North Texas and Louisiana) before finally after cutting a big swath through those rigs, she lands somewhere near New Orleans or in Mississippi.

deep trench 23.Sep.2005 04:44


According to the forecasters, Rita is about to enter an area with a deep trench of especially warm water. The National Hurricane Center info states that not only the surface temperature of the water is important, but rather the depth of the water is critical for the formation of truly massive hurricanes. With the sheering effect which temporarily slowed down Rita, making her a catagory four storm, now disappating, and Rita entering this deep pool of warm water, forecasters are predicting that this hurricane will rapidly return to catagory five, and given that this is the warmest water encountered yet, it is possible that Rita could become an even worse catagory five than before this shearing effect slowed things down for a time.

better than NOAA 23.Sep.2005 04:53

HAARP watch

Thanks, Forcaster Brent.

Hurricane Phillipe? 23.Sep.2005 05:17


After following a northern track for over a week, Tropical storm Phillipe has suddenly changed direction and is now tracking westward and if it survives, the ridge that it is pushing it to the west could thread Phillipe through the Florida straits and into the Gulf, just as happened with Rita. However there is a possibility that Phillipe will be absorbed into another low to the south, or that it will be destroyed by strong sheer forces before it can make it to the Florida straits.. Phillipe is seen on the pressure map as a blue circle below the green upper level ridge over the Atlantic. This is the same ridge that threaded Rita into the Gulf earlier this week, and is now stopping northward motion by Phillipe and has begun pushing the storm eastward toward the Florida straits.

The current forecast for Rita is...
Rita is moving between 300-305 degrees at 8-9 kt....
t the mid-level ridge is still present over
Texas. This feature should move eastward during the next 24-48
hr...allowing the current northwestward motion to become more
northerly. Track guidance is now clustered about a landfall on the
Upper Texas coast in roughly 30 hr. ....
After landfall...the guidance become very divergent as high
pressure build to the west and possibly north of Rita. Given the
spread...the forecast track will call for little motion after 72 hr
just as the previous forecast did. This stalling will pose a
serious risk of very heavy rainfall well inland.

The forecast is uncertain about the intensity of the storm, and Rita is still experiencing southerly shear, which might negate the effects of the deep warm water...The forecast states...

Rita is over the warm eddy
of The Loop current...there is a chance it could strengthen during
the next 12 hr. ... The intensity forecast thus calls for
a slight increase in strength in 12 hr...follwed by slight
weakening. An alternative scenario is that Rita does not
strengthen...and gradually weakens due to shear until landfall.

The sudden left turn of Phillipe 23.Sep.2005 05:38


The tracking map shows the left turn just taken by Tropical storm Phillipe as the high level ridge stops Phillipe moving north and begins pushing the storm west. The pressure map shows rita on the far left, and Phillipe, and also shows how if Phillip survives the sheer, and is not absorbed by the low pressure area to the south (in blue) Phillipe would be led by the high pressure ridge to the Florida straits to the south of Florida just as happened with Katrina and with Rita earlier this week.
Phillipe and the high level ridge
Phillipe and the high level ridge
Phillipe turns left
Phillipe turns left

. 23.Sep.2005 10:43


I was listening to this NOAA guy interviewed who had just flown over hurricane Rita. He said the top windspeed they measured was a 236 mph gust.