Thursday, September 22

RITA UPDATE AT 4:00PM CDT FROM HOUSTON AREA

I just watched the weather reports provided at 4:00pm CDT from two local network affiliates in Houston -- "Click2Houston" and "KHOU.com" -- and what follows is a synopsis from notes I took.

The current "Cone of Uncertainty" has narrowed somewhat with Rita and the computer models tracking it showing continued movements that would take it on a path north-northeast of Houston-Galveston in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area or even farther up the coast in the direction of western Louisiana. This is happening because of a breakdown in a high pressure system over southeastern Texas and western Louisiana. If that high pressure system were to rebuild, then Rita could turn west/southwest back towards Houston-Galveston or even farther towards Freeport.

Presently, the computer models indicate a 1 in 4 probability of Rita making a direct hit on the Houston-Galveston area.

However, understand that this doesn't mean this major population center (4.5 million people) is out of the woods. The reach of Rita is immense -- up to 85 miles out from its eyewall. We're talking nearly a 200 mile diameter when it slams into the coastline.

The outer bands of Rita should hit land by midnight tomorrow (Friday) night and the eye of the hurricane will make landfall approximately 8-10 hours later, or between 8:00am and 10:00pm CDT Saturday morning.

Rita, even in a weakened state, is still expected to hit the coastline with winds of 115-130 mph and Houston could see sustained winds in the 70-90 mph range for up to 12 consecutive hours.

Of course, much could change. I'll do my best to keep you posted. This is a fluid situation.