Hawaii gets a temporary reprieve

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:40 PM GMT on March 17, 2006

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The rains have stopped for the past day on Hawaii's Kauai Island, where over 100 inches of rain has fallen in the mountains in the past three weeks. The heavy rains are due to a persistent upper-level low pressure system, a common occurence in the Central Pacific during a La Nina event like the region is now experiencing. The rains moved away from the islands yesterday, which have been under a continuous series of flash flood warnings and watches for weeks. The improved weather will aid in the search for victims of the failure of an earthen dam that burst on Kauai Tuesday. When the dam broke, a 20-foot flood of water moving at 15-20 mph smashed through a populated area, killing two and leaving six people missing and presumed dead. If the missing people are declared dead, this week's disaster would be the deadliest weather disaster in Hawaii's history.

Figure 1. Radar estimated precipitation on Kauai from March 13 - March 17. The radiating rays to the north are caused by mountains that block the radar beam, and the actual precipitation on the northern part of the island is greater than shown here.

Hawaii is probably the safest state as far as deaths from weather-related causes go. High surf is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in Hawaii, with 92 deaths between 1960-2004. Flash floods have killed 46 people in Hawaii in the past 45 years, high wind, six people, and hurricanes, six. Prior to this week's flood disaster, the previous most deadly flood disaster on Hawaii occurred on December 14, 1991, when a rainstorm dropped over 20 inches of rain in 12 hours on Kauai, causing five deaths, intense flooding, bank failures, erosion, and slides, with more than $5 million in property damages. Hawaii's only billion-dollar weather disaster occurred in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki passed directly over Kauai as a Category 4 hurricane, killing 6 and causing over $3 billion in damage. Hurricanes are fairly rare in Hawaii--only three hurricanes have brought hurricane-force winds over the islands since 1957. The National Climatic Data Center lists Hawaii as having the second fewest billion dollar weather disasters of any state since 1980 (one). Only Alaska has had no billion-dollar weather disasters.

The 100+ inches of rain that fell on Kauai's Mt. Waialeale the past three weeks has not set any records yet--Mount Waialeale averages 424 inches of rain per year, and is second only to the the monsoon-drenched Himalaya Mountains of India as the wettest spot on Earth. Mt. Waialeale recorded 683 inches of rain in 1982. The U.S. record of 704 inches in a year was set the same year at nearby Maui Island's Puu Kukui, at 5,788 feet elevation. The Hawaiian state 24-hour rainfall record is 38 inches at Kilauea Plantation on the island of Kauai, on Jan 24-25, 1956. Mt. Waialeale has three factors that help it catch more rain than other locations in the Hawaiian islands (thanks, Wikipedia):

1) Its northern position relative to the main Hawaiian Islands provides more exposure to frontal systems that bring rain during the winter.
2) It has a relatively round and regular conical shape, exposing all sides of its peak to winds and the moisture that they carry.
3) Its peak lies just below the so-called trade wind inversion layer of 6,000 feet (1,800 m), above which trade-wide-produced clouds cannot rise.

The long range outlook for Kauai and the rest of the Hawaiian islands is not good--another upper-level low pressure system is expected to move over the islands Saturday, bringing an increased chance of flash flooding. The rains are part of a typical La Nina weather pattern for the Hawaiian islands which is expected to continue for several months, according to the latest seasonal outlook issued yesterday by the Climate Prediction Center.

Jeff Masters

Rainbow on the Ocean (NorthPix)
There is a faint double rainbow.
Rainbow on the Ocean
651 inches of rain a year!! (coyoteweed)
Sleeping Giant!!
651 inches of rain a year!!
Mount Waialeale (Kahuna)
Clear view of Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot on Earth, as seen from the Kuilau trail on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Mount Waialeale

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78. mellotrongirl
7:13 PM GMT on March 21, 2006
If Waialeale is the second-weetest spot on the planet after a spot in the Himalayas of India, there is a spot on Queensland at roughly the same elevation of Kauai's second-highest peak (5,100 ft.) that supposedly is the fifth wettest spont on Earth after Colombia and Cameroon...Bellenden Ker, where over a 9 year period averaged 340 inches. I wonder what the wettest spot in the lower 48 states is...probably somewhere in the Olympics of Washington State or in the coast range of northern Oregon? I wouldn't be surprised if the wettest spot in Alaska is around Ketchikan. Seems like it's always raining up there.

I had no idea Queensland is so wet...maybe this was an extraordinary nine year period?
Member Since: December 7, 2005 Posts: 48 Comments: 35
77. ForecasterColby
1:54 PM GMT on March 20, 2006
Larry now dying overland, a swirl of breaking clouds. Innisfail, Australia, lies in ruins, from what I can find.
76. ForecasterColby
7:56 AM GMT on March 20, 2006
What's wrong with this picture:

WTPS31 PGTW 200300
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVPACMETOCCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
REF/A/NAVPACMETOCCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/200152ZMAR2006//
AMPN/REF A IS A TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING.//
SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING//
RMKS/
1. TROPICAL CYCLONE 17P (LARRY) WARNING NR 009
02 ACTIVE TROPICAL CYCLONES IN SOUTHPAC
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS BASED ON ONE-MINUTE AVERAGE
---
WARNING POSITION:
200000Z --- NEAR 17.7S 145.4E
MOVEMENT PAST SIX HOURS - 265 DEGREES AT 14 KTS
POSITION ACCURATE TO WITHIN 060 NM
POSITION BASED ON CENTER LOCATED BY SATELLITE
PRESENT WIND DISTRIBUTION:
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 100 KT, GUSTS 125 KT
DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND

REPEAT POSIT: 17.7S 145.4E
---
FORECASTS:
12 HRS, VALID AT:
201200Z --- 18.1S 142.8E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 050 KT, GUSTS 065 KT
DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
VECTOR TO 24 HR POSIT: 255 DEG/ 09 KTS
---
24 HRS, VALID AT:
210000Z --- 18.5S 141.0E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 020 KT, GUSTS 030 KT
DISSIPATED AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
---
REMARKS:
200300Z POSITION NEAR 17.8S 144.8E.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 17P (LARRY), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 50 NM SOUTH-
SOUTHWEST OF CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA HAS TRACKED WESTWARD AT 14 KNOTS OVER
THE PAST SIX HOURS. TC 17P MADE LANDFALL NEAR INNISFAIL, AUSTRALIA
AND WILL RAPIDLY WEAKEN AS IT TRACKS OVER LAND. NEXT WARNINGS AT
200900Z, 201500Z AND 202100Z. REFER TO TROPICAL CYCLONE 18P (WATI)
WARNINGS (WTPS32 PGTW 200300) FOR SIX-HOURLY UPDATES.//

NNNN



100kt winds is not dissipating!
75. Skyepony (Mod)
3:31 AM GMT on March 20, 2006
that 2nd link again
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38668
74. Skyepony (Mod)
3:01 AM GMT on March 20, 2006
By The Numbers: Fema Recovery Update In Louisiana

I also ran across this, a repeat of the year before: FEMA Wants Some Relief Payments Back

Looks like Kauai might be back on for more rain...
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38668
73. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
1:39 AM GMT on March 20, 2006
atmosweather i think you got mail
72. Skyepony (Mod)
1:00 AM GMT on March 20, 2006
North Texas got ~5 inches of rain. Highlight:

"There are houses that have water coming in them, and there are cars that are submerged" across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan. He said at least two high water rescues were reported in Arlington but authorities had not received word of weather-related injuries.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38668
71. atmosweather
9:08 PM GMT on March 19, 2006
Not much except my dad's family lol. This is really scary.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
70. isawitonline
9:02 PM GMT on March 19, 2006
>>I'd beleive it MichaelSTL; That's an impressive looking storm. I would not be surprised if it is still intensifying. Warm waters and favorable conditions for the time being, even though windshear is starting to increase according to Sat Direved Winds. It's probably going to be very bad for whoever is in Larry's way.<<

Thankfully, there is not much in Larry's way. A few sugar plantations, a few thousand people in a few communities. It's splitting the uprights between Cairns and Townsville...thankfully, not impacting either larger urban area.

http://philadelphiaweather.blogspot.com/2006/03/tropical-discussion-strong-tropical.html
69. ForecasterColby
6:09 PM GMT on March 19, 2006
I've posted a blog on Larry and will be updating throughout the day.
68. HurricaneMyles
3:25 PM GMT on March 19, 2006
I'd beleive it MichaelSTL; That's an impressive looking storm. I would not be surprised if it is still intensifying. Warm waters and favorable conditions for the time being, even though windshear is starting to increase according to Sat Direved Winds. It's probably going to be very bad for whoever is in Larry's way.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
64. HurricaneMyles
3:02 PM GMT on March 19, 2006
It may be a Cat 4 on the Aussie scale, but it's not the Saffir-Simspon scale. I made the same mistake earlier this year. Cat 3 is a minimal hurricane in down under. There scale is different, not excactly sure the details on it, but thier Cat1 is our weak TS. Cat 2 is a strong TS. Cat 3 is a weak hurricane. Cat 4 is a stronger hurricane, and Cat 5 is an intense hurricane.

All in all, JTWC is always very conservative. Right now they still say it's a 90 kt storm. I wouldnt be suprised if it's really 110-115 kts strong.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
60. ForecasterColby
6:56 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
See, I'm not gonna buy 65kt with that satellite presentation.
58. ForecasterColby
3:26 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
I was saying I was suprised the NHC didn't have it as a Cat 2 - they tend to underrate, IMO.

I'd say 115 is correct, though.
57. hurricanechaser
1:10 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Hey Bob,

Honestly, I couldn't agree with you more Bob on your assessment of Katrina and we really aren't that far off on Rita's landfall intensity.:)

That has to be an indication that I am getting just a little smarter and there may be hope for me just yet (lol).:)

Ok, my last post for the night and I do hope you have a wonderful weekend and please know that I am sincerely keeping you in my prayers.:)

Thanks,
Tony


56. weatherguy03
12:58 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Yes, Katrina's radar signature was more impressive then Rita's. I agree more with the NHC assesment on Rita then Katrina. I think we will never know the real truth about Katrina's winds because alot of data was lost right at landfall.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29707
55. hurricanechaser
12:57 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Have a goodnight Bob...you know I love you man, even when we occasionally disagree.(lol):)
54. hurricanechaser
12:54 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Hey Bob,

We can certainly respectfully agree to disagree for the data and radar signatures were far more impressive with Katrina at landfall and she was not only a marginal category three in my personal opinion, and there is no reasonable meterological rationale for the downgrade to such a low intensity.

Thanks,
Tony


53. hurricanechaser
12:50 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Hey Bob and Colby,

I have been reviewing the radar signatures, data in the archives, etc. during the past couple of hours and I am leaning more toward the operationally assessed intensity of a 120 mph category 3 at landfall.

Naturally, this is simply my opinion and earlier I was leaning toward 125 mph sustained.

However, further objective review suggests I may have been just a little generous, but it definitely wasn't a category two no matter what data we analyze and the radar signature is consistent with a marginal category three.

Moreover, the eyewall and outer rain bands became slightly better defined just prior to landfall.

Anyways, I hope both of you have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks,
Tony


52. weatherguy03
12:42 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
And also, the same could be said about Katrina's satelite appearance before landfall, which lead to its slight weakening. And also, for people to say this is political or its about insurance companies is totally absurd. Cmon guys..LOL
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29707
51. weatherguy03
12:38 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
*anyone..Now if only I can learn to type..Ha Ha!!
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29707
50. weatherguy03
12:37 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
Colby, for once I am with you on something..LOL
I totally agree with you on Rita. Just look at the radar and satelite signature about 12 hours before landfall, how can nayone deny that. I remember I was up all night with Rita's landfall on WU. The next few days everyone was tearing into me because I said it was a Weak 3, Strong 2. Noone believed me..LOL. Its nice to know I wasnt crazy!!
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 592 Comments: 29707
49. Oeneus
12:33 AM GMT on March 19, 2006
What if they rated hurricanes by both wind and spread? Like when Rita was a cat. 3 (just before landfall) with hurricane force winds extending 85mi from center, it would be a cat 3.85.205. Beta was also a cat. 3 just before land fall, but would have been a 3.15.60.
Member Since: January 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
48. gippgig
7:40 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
The Zeta report I downloaded yesterday had a "1" indicating a footnote at the end of the first sentence (after "basin") & had what I wrote at the bottom of the page. It is gone now.

Has anyone else noted that there are problems with the Gamma report? For example, the text states that Gamma started moving to the SE on Nov. 20 but the map shows it moving NW on the 20th & turning SE on the 21st. Also Fig. 1 shows the minimum pressure of 1002mb at noon on the 20th but Fig. 3 shows it at noon on the 19th.

I don't know if it's the same elsewhere but a local broadcast station is supposed to show the episode of Stargate Atlantis with the superhurricane today (start of a 2 part story).
Member Since: December 5, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 65
47. Skyepony (Mod)
7:16 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Keys NWS new office in the Keys, is built to with stand a cat 5 & they allow tourists in.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 193 Comments: 38668
46. hurricanechaser
5:05 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey Colby,

Please excuse the sarcasm for I was simply showing how unnecessary such comments truly are in making ones point.:)

I respect your right to disagree and you could be right in your assessment of Ritas true intensity. However, my interpreatation of the data suggests to me only that she was definately a category three at landfall with winds more in the 120-125 mph range rather than a weak 115 mph category three or even a category two as you apparently believe.

There is no harm in agreeing to disagree respectfully.:)

Thanks,
Tony


45. hurricanechaser
4:56 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey Colby,

By the way, just for the record, I don't personally think that we will ever see a 218 mb category four with 155 mph winds that does F-5 tornado damage from those winds.

44. hurricanechaser
4:51 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey Colby,

It is ironic that you decide to sarcastically make a comment about how irrelevant the Fujita damage scale and the storms actual measured barometric pressure and then follow with a post about how the storm doesn't "look" like a category 3 to you.

Are you suggesting it is better to simply just estimate the intensity by looking at it and ignore the storms verified barometric pressure and the wind damage it caused in the absence of reliable data?

Of course you aren't.

That being said, the official WIND data listed in my blog I just created, clearly shows to me at least that both storms were given too low an intensity based on winds alone.

Thanks,
Tony


43. hurricanechaser
4:43 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey Colby,

You said:

"The rating system is based on WINDS ONLY. When will you people get that through your heads? It could do F5 tornado damage and have a pressure of 218mb, and the winds could still be 155 and it would still be a Cat 4."

Who ever said the rating system (i.e. Saffir- Simpson hurricane scale) wasn't based on WINDS ONLY as you correctly noted?

If you somehow misunderstood my point that there is still a correlation between Barometric pressure and the winds generated by the storm, I suggest you please reread my posts once again.

I stated correctly that although there is not a direct one to one ratio between winds and pressure, that there isn't as great a disparity as the NHC would have some believe.

That was only one of many points that I discussed as to why Katrina and Rita were unjustly revised in their true landfalling intensities based SOLELY on wind speeds alone.

In short, there is a reason why we (I have actually done NWS damage surveys, so I know first hand) use the Fujita tornado scale to estimate wind damage and the NWS does take into consideration all variables to include how well the buildings were constructed before assigning a rating for those areas.

Therefore, the F-2 and borderline F-3 damage that was so widespread and extensive is extremely relevant in trying to best estimate the actual WINDS since the anemometers in these areas were disabled well before they could record the ACTUAL peak winds.

Likewise, the barometric pressure is still relevant as well, especially in cases like Katrina when there was difficulty obtaining the sustained winds from both radar out of Slidell, La. and the destroyed anemometers on the ground.

You have to remember that one must take into account the verifiable surrounding pressures and the measured barometric pressure in the storm and determine the magnitude of the pressure gradient as just simply one tool along with ALL the aforementioned to accurately access a storms true intensity absent reliable data from Recon flights and Doppler radar as was the case with Katrina.

In short, I respectfully disagree with you about your suggestion that barometric pressure as well as the fujita tornado damage scale have no relevancy regarding such storms like Katrina, where there was no true verifiable data to accurately obtain her true intensity.

As a result, we have to use all of the aforementioned to subjectively determine the best estimated landfalling intensity or otherwise flip a coin or play innie minnie mighty moe to figure out what categorization is most appropriate.

You think it is possible that we all could respectfully state our opinions without the sarcasm?

I for one think it would be nice.:)

Thanks,
Tony


42. DenverMark
4:21 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Colby,
Yes, I realize we rate by winds only right now. But I just don't think that did justice to the destruction caused by Katrina and points up weaknesses in our current rating system. Just my opinion.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
41. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
4:16 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
when i say the R storm updat i was mad i was hoping for a update to a cat 4 and not lower it to 115mph

did you all no that they did the to all 3 hurricane ????
40. ForecasterColby
4:14 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
I'm actually a little suprised they kept it that high...this doesn't look like a Cat 3 to me.
39. ForecasterColby
4:09 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
The rating system is based on WINDS ONLY. When will you people get that through your heads? It could do F5 tornado damage and have a pressure of 218mb, and the winds could still be 155 and it would still be a Cat 4.
38. DenverMark
4:07 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
chaser,
I agree completely with your assessment on Katrina and Rita. I don't want to accuse anyone of being dishonest, but I'm afraid politics did play a part. Also, the insurance industry is very, very powerful. There may be a lot of pressure to "massage the data", as a professor in one of my college courses used to say.

But one good thing out of all of this is that we are really rethinking how we rate hurricanes. I think the size of a hurricane can be more important than what the lowest pressure or highest wind speed is. This is true especially with a major hurricane. When Katrina was a Cat 5 it built up such an enormous storm surge that even as the winds weakened somewhat before landfall, that had almost no effect because the momentum of the storm surge was so great, and covered such a large area.

It is tough to figure out how to rate hurricanes, though. We don't want to minimize in any way the destruction and suffering caused by much smaller but very intense hurricanes (Charley would be an example), but it makes no sense to rate Katrina lower than Charley!
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
37. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
3:46 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
i have update my blog on the R storm it was not a cat 3 storm come on by a look at the photo on there you see it cat not be a cat 3 storm if you look at the photo it was a cat 4
36. ForecasterColby
3:40 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
'92 seems to have been a bad year for the U.S., despite low activity. Andrew and Iniki.

Or, it would have been considered a bad year until, say, 2004.
35. ForecasterColby
3:11 PM GMT on March 18, 2006


The S Pacific is back - Larry looks good.
34. seflagamma
3:10 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
Good Update Dr Masters and beautiful selection of pictures.
I remember Hurricane Iniki in 1992 (I've always been a Hurricane geek) that news footage of that roof blowing off was seen hundreds of times!

Hope they get a little break in that area soon.
Thanks again,
Gams
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 299 Comments: 40925
33. ForecasterColby
3:05 PM GMT on March 18, 2006
The fujita scale assumes that the winds do not last long, a minute or so at most. Winds from a tropical system last hours. Of course the fujita damage overrates the storm.
32. hurricanechaser
11:51 AM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey everyone,

I noticed a typo on my part.:)

"Please note the widespread wind damage alone was equivalent to F-3 on the Fujita tornado scale! Most other areas south of 150 miles inland (Meridian, MS.) had widespread damage equivalent to F-2 tornadoes."

It should've said, widespread wind damage of F-2 with some areas pushing F-3 type damage on the Fujita tornado scale.

In other words, there was widespread wind damage more than 120-150 miles inland of F-2 damage on the Fujita tornado scale, and F-1 damage past that upwards of 200 miles in many areas.

31. hurricanechaser
11:43 AM GMT on March 18, 2006
Here is the summary from the Katrina post storm report that I alluded to in my previous post detailing the incredible wind damage inland for Katrina. This report is from the NWS in Jackson, MS.

It says:

"Destruction in the path of Hurricane Katrina has been widespread and overwhelming.

catastrophic destruction was left across the Gulf Coast and parts of southeast Mississippi.

Several visual surveys were made by NWS personnel across portions of central...east-central and southeast Mississippi.

These surveys indicated widespread damage comparable to F1 and F2 tornadoes...with areas bordering on F3 type damage.

The most extensive damage...from the surveyed areas...is roughly located south and east of a Purvis to Collins to Newton to Meridian line.

Areas north of I-20 have considerable tree
damage...comparable to an F1 tornado...but the damage is not as widespread like across southeast Mississippi."


Please note the widespread wind damage alone was equivalent to F-3 on the Fujita tornado scale! Most other areas south of 150 miles inland (Meridian, MS.) had widespread damage equivalent to F-2 tornadoes.

It also says less widespread wind damage equivalent to F-1 tornadoes some 200 miles inland.

This is very consistent with the damage I also surveyed and recorded myself for there was very widespread and extensive damage to trees, power lines, and structural damage to homes and businesses past Laurel into Meridian where the widespread nature of the destruction was less noticeable on my drive North into that town on I-59.

It is safe to say Rita can't come close to claiming this type of widespread and extensive wind damage excluding the storm surges.

Thanks,
Tony


30. hurricanechaser
11:03 AM GMT on March 18, 2006
Hey everyone,

A quick post regarding both the Rita revised intensity at landfall and the comparisons being made between her and Katrina.

First of all, I personally believe the NHC got both of these final reports wrong in terms of landfalling intensity.

I still have to wonder if there could actually be some underlying reason (insurance companies, political pressures, something) for the MHC to come up with Katrina being only a 125 mph 920 mb hurricane in Buras, La. and a 120 mph category 3 storm at 928 mb in Mississippi.

On the other hand, it is also unfair as well to suggest that the NHC is being the equivalent of being dishonest in their reanalyzation of these storms.

Honestly, there is just no reasonable meteorological explanation for how they can derive (not in their report) that Katrina wasn't a 135 mph minimal category four for Buras landfall and probably closer to 130 mph borderline category 3/4 for the Mississippi landfall.

Likewise, it is pretty hard to conceive based upon the merits, how they can determine that Rita was just a weak category three landfall at 115 mph coming ashore with a 940 mb pressure.

I will go on record and suggest it is possible in my humble opinion that the NHC's rushed report on Katrina, which I believe is flawed had an impact on the discussions in determining Rita true landfalling intensity as well.

To be more specific, there is no way they could've realistically had Rita coming ashore at the same landfalling intensity as Katrina since they already listed Katrina as only a 125 mph moderate category three.

I naturally understand the inadequacies in the one to one ratio of the pressure gradient for correlating wind speeds with a given barometric pressure.

However, a correlation does still exist nonetheless and when reanalyzing both storms with the ambient (surrounding) pressures present at the time of each landfall, the current understanding and the science does not account for so great a disparity as the NHC would have you believe with the revised landfalling intensities for both storms.

As a result, I would respectfully argue that Rita was more on the line of a weakening 125 mph category three at landfall and not 115 mph.

I see some posts suggesting that Katrina's wind damage was not as extensive as Rita which I have to respectfully disagree for the widespread and very extensive wind damage rated as F-2 on the Fujita tornado scale that the NWS uses which reached more than 120 miles inland to Laurel, MS. and I personally drove through South Hattiesburg (65 miles inland)through Hattiesburg (75 miles inland) and past Meridian, MS. (150 miles inland) where the NWS rated damage still at F-1 intensity past Meridian to almost 200 miles inland.

The reason that the wind damage which was unbelievable (factual evidence in my video)doesn't get talked about too often is directly the result of the massive and historic damage caused by Katrina's storm surge which did the vast majority of the damage no doubt, and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans which places estimates at $75-100 billion for Katrina's damage.

This total would still have been well above Rita's, even if they had created comparable storm surges and we shouldn't forget that Rita did demolish entire SW La. towns with her own extreme surge of 15-20 feet which caused the majority of her damage as well.

There is very little doubt that Rita did not even come that close to producing the type of wind damage as Katrina did and she certainly didn't come close to having officially measured winds of 137 mph 50 miles inland, much less 120 mph 100 miles inland as well, which brought the astonishing widespread F-2 wind damage to inland Mississippi.

In short, both storms did most of their damage via the huge storm surges they both produced (Rita's surge pushing 20 feet is very rare in itself) and each surge virtually wiped entire coastal communities off the map for the time being.

Naturally, they also each caused widespread wind damage that was overshadowed in Katrina's case because of the astronomical damage on the coast by her surge and the media coverage primarily focused on the historic and devastating flooding of New Orleans combined with the immense and incomprehensible tragedy of more than 1400 people losing their lives along the coast which naturally would not have occurred had Katrina not produced that astounding storm surge.

In other words, if Katrina would've only brought in the same still incredible storm surge as Rita (which might not have breached the levees in New Orleans if the surge was closer to the 15 foot estimate on the low end of Rita's estimated surge), there still would have been a huge disparity in the damage totals related to wind damage alone, as the official NWS damage surveys undeniably prove.

Regardless of the inaccurate(in my humble opinion) revised landfall intensities for both storms, it has zero effect on the immense and virtually unbearable hardship that each storm brought to those who were most affected by each.

That being said, there is also no doubt that Rita's wind speeds and resultant damage couldn't come close to being comparable to Katrina's (have to remember Katrina's surge completely demolished the structures along the coast that otherwise would've been able to show the wind damage there) not just on the coast, but 200 miles inland which is astounding for a weakening 120 mph category three (supposedly) on the Mississippi coast.

It is one thing to analyze and contemplate the wind damages inflicted by each storm from afar and an entirely different matter when you have seen it with your very own eyes.

I will submit the post storm damage report for Katrina and Rita for comparisons, and it will clearly show that Rita's wind damages, while very extensive, doesn't come close to comparing with Katrina's (the difference in windfields had much to do with it as well as if I remember correctly, Katrina was moving slightly faster than Rita)

We can't forget that Rita had a very large hurricane force wind field extending some 85 miles from the center. Yet, Katrina had an even more remarkable hurricane force wind field extending up to 125 miles away from the center.

That is a very big difference of 40 miles in which Katrina's hurricane force winds would be impacting an area 40 miles farther inland if both storms were located at the same point. Moreover, it would take Rita more than two full hours to bring her hurricane force winds to the same area Katrina had blasted at landfall.

At that point, Katrina would then be blasting areas with hurricane force winds another 40 miles further inland of Rita. It is also important to note that Katrina maintained her very destructive intensity much further inland as well.

I am in no way trying to minimize the incredible wind damage inflicted by Rita. However, it's truly unfair and very inaccurate to suggest it was more widespread and more significant than Katrina's.

In short, they both were very destructive storms and huge calamities for everyone who was adversely affected by each and the technical meteorological discussions that are debated by all of us (definitely me included here) as well as the NHC is comparably very inconsequential.

Thanks,
Tony


29. ForecasterColby
7:25 AM GMT on March 18, 2006
I went to find the mention of a STS...it's not there anymore!
28. atmosweather
3:13 AM GMT on March 18, 2006
My 2006 hurricane season outlook has been updated.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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