Hurricane Rita formed on September 18, 2005 west of the southeastern Bahamas, where Rita moved over the following day. Heading westward, Rita attained hurricane strength on September 20th while passing between the Florida Keys and Cuba. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, Rita rapidly intensified over the very warm waters of the loop current and within an environment of very weak vertical wind shear. Rita reached a peak intensity of category 5 with sustained winds of 155 knots (180 mph) and a minimum pressure of 895 mb (26.43 inches of mercury) at 10 PM CDT September 21st. This low pressure makes Rita the strongest hurricane every recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, and 4th strongest in the Atlantic Basin.
Rita made landfall across western Cameron Parish just east of the Texas and Louisiana border around 2:40 AM CDT Saturday September 24, 2005 as a category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 100 knots (115 mph) and a minimum pressure of 937 mb (27.67 inches of mercury). Rita was the strongest hurricane to strike Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana since Hurricane Audrey on June 27, 1957. Preliminary information suggests that Rita was comparable to Audrey in many ways and perhaps worse in that the effects were felt across a larger area. A lot has changed in the 48 years since Audrey, and many lessons have been learned from her and other disasters that have affected this area during that time.
Wind damage was extensive across Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas as well, with a large area receiving category 1-2 hurricane force winds (see estimated wind gust graphic). Exact measurements were not possible in some areas due to power outages and failures of automated weather observing sites, and coastal tide gauges being washed away by the storm surge.
|Hurricane Rita-related Reports|
|Hurricane Rita Report from NWS Lake Charles: A Comparison of Winds and Storm Surge|
|Graphical Overview of Hurricane Rita|
Hurricane Rita Track
Hurricane Rita Max Wind Gusts
Hurricane Rita Storm Surge
|Post Tropical Cyclone Reports|
|National Hurricane Center|
|Lake Charles||New Orleans||Houston||Fort Worth||Corpus Christi|
Radar and Satellite Animated Imagery
(30fps in Windows Media Format)
|Links of Interest|
|WFO LCH Rita Web Log||Comparing Rita to Audrey||NWS/EM Partnership|
|NOAA Aerial Damage Photos||NOAA on Rita Aftermath||NOAA on HAZMAT Response|
|AOML Coverage||HPC Rainfall Summary||NASA Rita Coverage|
|NHC September 2005 Summary||NHC Advisory Archive||NHC Graphics Archive|
|NWS Houston Coverage||NWS Shreveport coverage||NWS New Orleans coverage|
|NDBC Buoy Reports during Rita||A Partnership for Rita|
|Calcasieu Parish||Cameron Parish||Vermilion Parish|
|Jefferson Davis Parish||St. Mary Parish|
|Jefferson County||Orange County|