FORECASTS, DEVELOPMENT, TRACK MAPS and IMPACT PHOTOS
HURRICANE RITA FORECASTs, STARTING THURSDAY SEPT 22 2005 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE... AN INTENSE HURRICANE WITH A CLEAR EYE SURROUNDED BY VERY DEEP CONVECTION... WITH AN ESTIMATED WIND SPEED OF 140 KNOTS... AND RITA WILL BE CROSSING AN AREA OF HIGH HEAT CONTENT DURING THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS... SO IT IS EXPECTED THAT THE HURRICANE WILL MAINTAIN ITS STRENGTH. THEREAFTER...THE OCEAN HEAT CONTENT IS NOT AS HIGH AND THE INTENSITY CHANGES WILL BE CONTROLLED MAINLY BY EYEWALL REPLACEMENT CYCLES AND DECREASING HEAT CONTENT. SOME WEAKENING IS ANTICIPATED BUT RITA IS FORECAST TO MAKE LANDFALL AS A MAJOR HURRICANE...AT LEAST CATEGORY THREE.
UPDATE 4 AM CDT FRIDAY SEP 23 2005 RITA IS COMPLETING ITS EYEWALL REPLACEMENT CYCLE THIS MORNING...AS THE LAST REPORT FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT SHOWED THAT THE INNER 15 N MI WIDE EYE HAD DISSIPATED AND A SINGLE 33 N MI WIDE EYE EXISTED. MAXIMUM FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS AT 700 MB IN THE NORTHEASTERN QUADRANT ARE 125-130 KT...WHICH HELPS SUPPORT AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 120 KT. THE AIRCRAFT DATA SHOWED THAT ANOTHER WIND MAXIMA HAS FORMED ABOUT 60 N MI FROM THE CENTER...WHICH MIGHT BE THE START OF ANOTHER OUTER EYEWALL. THE LATEST CENTRAL PRESSURE REPORTED BY THE AIRCRAFT IS 927 MB. RITA IS MOVING BETWEEN 300-305 DEGREES AT 8-9 KT. RAWINSONDE DATA AT 00Z INDICATES THAT 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...WITH THE MODEL TRACK BEING SPREAD BETWEEN SAN LUIS PASS AND SABINE PASS. THE FORECAST TRACK UP TO LANDFALL IS ESSENTIALLY AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS PACKAGE. UPDATE 6 PM CDT FRI SEP 23 2005 THE CENTER OF HURRICANE RITA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 28.5 NORTH...LONGITUDE 92.9 WEST OR ABOUT 100 MILES SOUTHEAST OF SABINE PASS ALONG THE COAST AT THE BORDER BETWEEN TEXAS AND LOUISIANA. RITA IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 13 MPH. A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS. ON THIS TRACK...THE CORE OF HURRICANE RITA WILL MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA AND UPPER TEXAS COASTS NEAR DAYBREAK SATURDAY. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 125 MPH...205 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. RITA IS A STRONG CATEGORY THREE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN INTENSITY ARE POSSIBLE BEFORE LANDFALL... BUT RITA IS STILL EXPECTED TO COME ASHORE AS A DANGEROUS CATEGORY THREE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 85 MILES... 140 KM... FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 205 MILES...335 KM. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO SPREAD INLAND AS FAR AS 100 MILES NEAR THE PATH OF RITA. A NOAA BUOY AT CALCASIEU PASS LOUISIANA... ON THE COAST NEAR CAMERON LOUISIANA... RECENTLY REPORTED SUSTAINED WINDS OF 49 MPH WITH A GUST TO 62 MPH. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 37 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 54 MPH WERE RECENTLY REPORTED AT GALVESTON TEXAS. THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 931 MB...27.49 INCHES. COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 15 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS... LOCALLY UP TO 20 FEET AT HEAD OF BAYS AND NEARBY RIVERS...WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES...CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL. TIDES ARE CURRENTLY RUNNING ABOUT 2 FEET ABOVE NORMAL ALONG THE LOUISIANA...MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA COASTS IN THE AREAS AFFECTED BY KATRINA. TIDES IN THOSE AREAS WILL INCREASE TO 4 TO 6 FEET AND BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE WAVES... AND RESIDENTS THERE COULD EXPERIENCE COASTAL FLOODING. LARGE SWELLS GENERATED BY RITA WILL LIKELY AFFECT MOST PORTIONS OF THE GULF COAST. RITA IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 12 INCHES... WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 20 INCHES OVER SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS AND SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA AS IT MOVES INLAND. RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE OVER SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA... INCLUDING METROPOLITAN NEW ORLEANS WITH ISOLATED HEAVIER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE. SINCE RITA IS FORECAST TO SLOW DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY AFTER MAKING LANDFALL...TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS LOCALLY IN EXCESS OF 25 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS ACROSS EASTERN TEXAS INTO WESTERN LOUISIANA. ISOLATED TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE TONIGHT AND SATURDAY MORNING OVER PORTIONS OF SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS...SOUTHERN LOUISIANA INCLUDING SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA. UPDATE 10 PM CDT FRI SEP 23 2005 ...EYE OF MAJOR HURRICANE RITA JUST A FEW HOURS FROM LANDFALL NEAR THE TEXAS/LOUISIANA BORDER... ...STRONG WINDS AND HEAVY RAINS BATTERING SOUTHERN LOUISIANA AND SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS... AT 10 PM CDT...0300Z...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE RITA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 29.1 NORTH... LONGITUDE 93.2 WEST OR ABOUT 55 MILES... 90 KM... SOUTHEAST OF SABINE PASS ALONG THE GULF COAST AT THE TEXAS/LOUISIANA BORDER. RITA IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 12 MPH... 19 KM/HR. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE UNTIL LANDFALL. A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED ON SATURDAY. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 120 MPH...195 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER GUSTS. RITA IS A DANGEROUS CATEGORY THREE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS EXPECTED PRIOR TO LANDFALL. GRADUAL WEAKENING IS EXPECTED AFTER RITA MOVES INLAND. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 85 MILES...140 KM... FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 205 MILES...335 KM. A WIND GUST TO 74 MPH WAS RECENTLY REPORTED AT LAKE CHARLES LOUISIANA. ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 931 MB...27.49 INCHES. COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 15 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS... LOCALLY UP TO 20 FEET AT HEAD OF BAYS AND NEARBY RIVERS...WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES...CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL. TIDES ARE CURRENTLY RUNNING ABOUT 2 FEET ABOVE NORMAL ALONG THE LOUISIANA...MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA COASTS IN THE AREAS AFFECTED BY KATRINA. TIDES IN THOSE AREAS WILL INCREASE TO 4 TO 6 FEET AND BE ACCOMPANIED BY LARGE WAVES... AND RESIDENTS THERE COULD EXPERIENCE COASTAL FLOODING. LARGE SWELLS GENERATED BY RITA WILL LIKELY AFFECT MOST PORTIONS OF THE GULF COAST. SINCE RITA IS EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS... RAINFALL TOTALS OF 10 TO 15 INCHES ARE EXPECTED OVER EASTERN TEXAS AND WESTERN LOUISIANA. MAXIMUM RAINFALL TOTALS IN EXCESS OF 25 INCHES COULD OCCUR OVER LOCALIZED AREAS. RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES WITH ISOLATED HEAVIER TOTALS ARE POSSIBLE OVER SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA INCLUDING METROPOLITAN NEW ORLEANS. ISOLATED TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE TONIGHT...SATURDAY...AND SATURDAY NIGHT OVER FAR EASTERN TEXAS...LOUISIANA...SOUTHERN ARKANSAS...AND MISSISSIPPI.
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Tuesday, 20 September 2005
KEY WEST, Florida — Hurricane Rita slammed into the southern tip of Florida Tuesday morning, causing flooding in the Florida Keys as it moved toward the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is expected to strengthen as it moves through the Gulf toward Southern Texas.
Rita, the ninth hurricane of the season and the third to hit Florida this year, moved through the Florida Straits between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday. Cuba's National Information Agency reported 58,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas on the northern part of the island nation. Flooding and debris closed portions of the two-lane road that connects the Florida Keys, a string of islands on Florida's tip...
Forecaster Richard Knabb at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Rita was moving to the west and would strengthen over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
"We expect that will continue for the next couple of days," said Knabb. "There's a fairly strong ridge to the north and northwest of this hurricane which should drive it continuing toward the west over the next couple of days. Later in the period, when we get to three and four days from now that westward motion becomes a little more in question and it could turn more to the north. And so that's why anywhere from Louisiana through Texas could end up receiving the brunt of this hurricane, which could be stronger, could be a major hurricane by the time it gets to the western Gulf," he said.
US OIL INDUSTRY PICKS UP THE PIECES
Reuters, Mon Sep 26, 200510:21 PM BST
By Janet McGurty
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five refineries in Texas and Louisiana suffered significant damage from Hurricane Rita over the weekend and at least two of them will take weeks to come back on line.
U.S. oil companies on Monday took stock and began recovery efforts to Gulf of Mexico refineries and offshore production infrastructure after Hurricane Rita, the second major storm in a month to strike at the heart of the U.S. energy industry.
Rita hit near the Texas and Louisiana border with winds near 120 miles per hour early Saturday morning, after plowing through the offshore production rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. It missed the Houston refining hub.
Seven of the 15 refineries that had shut ahead of Rita reported plans to restart swiftly, amounting to nearly 2 million barrels per day of capacity. Major pipelines and the nation's only offshore oil port resumed operations.
Rita wreaked havoc on at least five refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana Two of them said it could be weeks before they restart.
The U.S. Department of Energy said Rita and Katrina had taken out about 4.4 million barrels per day or about 25 percent of total U.S. refining capacity. Of this, 1.4 million barrels, or 8 percent, could be closed for weeks or months.
In Port Arthur, Valero Energy Corp.'s 250,000 barrel per day refinery and Total's 233,000 barrel per day refinery will be shut for two to four weeks, company officials said.
The other three reported wind damage and loss of power.
Entergy Corp., the biggest power company in Louisiana, said it was assessing damage to its system and could not yet say how long it would take to restore service. A company spokesman said it was likely to be weeks.
Four other refineries, accounting for 880,000 bpd, remain shut in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina struck in late August -- triggering widespread worries over fuel supply.
PIPELINES WAITING FOR PRODUCT
The web of pipelines that carry both crude oil and products out of the Gulf Coast's Refinery Row are waiting for refineries to start up again before they start operating at full rates.
"We are ready to start once the refineries start shipping," said Paula Farrell, a spokeswoman for Magellan Pipeline, an 8,500 mile pipeline that carries petroleum products up through the Midwest.
TEPPCO, which also carries gasoline and distillates to the Midwest, said it was back at 45 percent capacity on both its 100,000 bpd distillate line and its 20 inch gasoline after commercial power was restored.
Colonial Pipeline, the largest products pipeline in the United States, on Sunday resumed operations at 42 percent of its normal daily flow rate. The pipeline, which usually carries 2.3 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel from Houston to Linden, New Jersey, expected to be at 54 percent of capacity on Monday and 72 percent on Tuesday.
Crude deliveries via pipeline to Midwestern refineries began to trickle back as the 350,000 barrel per day Seaway pipeline came back late Sunday.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port said it was undamaged and had started to offload crude oil tankers on Monday. The Gulf of Mexico port, closed Thursday ahead of Rita, is the only U.S. port capable of offloading deep draft tankers.
JURY STILL OUT ON PRODUCTION ASSETS
Most oil and gas producers were still assessing the damage Rita wrought on exploration and production facilities.
Crude oil output from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico remained completely shut in for the third straight day, the U.S. government said on Monday. The Minerals Management Service said 1.527 million barrels per day of crude oil production was shut in, compared with the 1.501 million barrels shut in on Sunday.
This brings total crude oil production shut-in since August 26 by Katrina and Rita to 34.8 million barrels.
About 78.4 percent, or 7.8 billion cubic feet, of natural gas remained shut in by Rita, down from the 8.047 billion cubic feet or 80.47 percent shut in on Sunday. So far, 163.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas has been shut in since August 26 by Katrina and Rita.
Chevron Corp. reported it had secured its Typhoon oil production platform in the deepwater of New Orleans, which was severely damaged and severed from the mooring.
Transocean Inc. also reported damage to a deepwater semisubmersible rig, which was disabled during Hurricane Katrina and also came adrift during Rita.
The U.S. Coast Guard said a flyover showed two drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico with visible signs of damage. It said eight of 38 units were adrift as of Sunday.
OIL PRICES END UP ON RECOVERY UNCERTAINTY
Futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange rallied on a run-up in the October heating oil contract and as fears emerged that recovery to Gulf of Mexico production might not come back on line as quickly as originally thought.
"There is a little bit of uncertainty on how quickly offshore production might come back online," said Marshall Steeves, analyst at Refco Group in New York.
After shedding a dollar on Sunday in a special NYMEX electronic session, the futures on Monday opened sharply lower before moving up.
Crude oil for delivery in November settled up $1.63 to $65.80 a barrel on Monday. Heating oil settled up 10.96 cents to $2.0586 a gallon for October delivery while the October gasoline contract settled up 4.36 cents to $2.1292 a gallon.
"The rally got started in heating oil. If there is a prolongued refinery outage, we might be starting the winter season with a diminished inventory." Steeves said.
LOUISIANA PREPARES TO REBUILD AFTER RITA
SCIENCE DAILY, LAKE CHARLES, La.,
No dead in Louisiana search and rescue (September 26, 2005) -- Military search and rescue missions in Louisiana were completed Monday with no deaths reported after Hurricane Rita swept the U.S. Gulf Coast ...
Hurricane Rita flattens most coastal homes (September 26, 2005) -- Damage assessment shows Hurricane Rita flattened nearly every house in several coastal Louisiana towns, emergency officials report. Along the border ...
National Guard on the move in Louisiana (September 25, 2005) -- Nearly 3,000 U.S. National Guard troops were being shuffled throughout Louisiana Sunday to deal with recovery from Hurricane Rita. Military relief ...
Rita weakens as storm heads north (
New Orleans evacuees on move again (September 23, 2005) -- Evacuees from New Orleans who had begun to make a new life in Lake Charles, La., were forced to move again as Hurricane Rita approached. Nearly 500 ...
A number of towns experienced on a smaller scale what New Orleans did in Hurricane Katrina with storm surge pushing into canals and then into low-lying areas. Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Herbert told the New Orleans Times Picayune about 3,000 houses were flooded, with one-third of the parish underwater at the height of the flooding.
"I've never seen a third of this parish flooded under any conditions," Hebert said.
The parishes of Cameron near the Texas border, Calcasieu to the north, and Lafayette and Vermilion to the east were the hardest hit. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore planned to set up a tent city in Lake Charles for residents whose homes are uninhabitable.
Honore, in charge of military relief efforts in Louisiana, said Rita could have been worse.
"Rita was a girl -- compared to a big lady -- a mean lady named Katrina," he told CNN.
No deaths from Rita had been reported in Louisiana as of Monday afternoon, largely because so many residents evacuated.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
The Saffir-Simpson Scale of Hurricane Strength (Herein from the Associated Press) is used to estimate potential property damage and coastal flooding. The scale is determined by wind speed since storm surge sizes depend on the slope of the continental shelf.
Category 1: Winds 74-95 mph. Storm surge 4 to 5 feet above normal. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs and piers.
Category 2: Winds 96-110 mph. Storm surge 6 to 8 feet above normal. Some roof, door and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to mobile homes, small watercraft, trees, poorly constructed signs and piers. Flooding of coastal and low-lying areas.
Category 3: Winds 111-130 mph. Storm surge 9 to 12 feet above normal. Some structural damage to small residences. Mobile homes destroyed and large trees blown down. Coastal flooding destroys smaller structures and floating debris damages larger structures. Terrain lower than 5 feet above sea level may flood as far as 8 miles inland.
Category 4: Winds 131-155 mph. Storm surge 13 to 18 feet above normal. Wall failures and roof collapses on small residences, and extensive damage to doors and windows. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major coastal flooding damage.
Category 5: Winds greater than 155 mph. Storm surge greater than 18 feet above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Smaller buildings and mobile homes blown over or completely blown away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline.
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