Hurricane Rita

135 knot winds and 15-20ft storm surge expected to strike the Texas/Louisiana coast within 24 hours

Friday September 23rd 2005, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States
While our thoughts go out to anyone in the States likely to be caught in the tracks of Hurricane Rita tonight, one cannot help but be impressed by the sheer might of this weather system.

Hurricane Rita was being reported this morning as being a Category 5 hurricane ie generating winds in excess of 135 knots, ie the maximum on the Saffir/Simpson hurricane scale.

However NOAA's National Hurricane Centre in the States has Rita listed currently Category 4 ie 114-135 knots and with a storm surge (ie the level of water pushed up by the hurricane's winds and low pressure centre) of 13-18ft.

The NHC reported this morning that the inner eye of the hurricane has dissipated and that the eye is now 33 miles across in diameter and that there was the prospect of a second eye forming within the hurricane. Over the next 12 hours they were warning that the hurricane might intensify having passed over and been fuelled by a warm eddy in the Gulf Stream. Rita as a system has been moving at 9mph northwest and is delivering hurricane force winds over an area of 85 miles outward from the centre, where the pressure is currently just 927mB.

For a cute animation of how hurricanes develop - check this out on the BBC website.

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