every time i've checked up on rita today the thought has been 'well, at least it can't get a whole lot stronger', but that common sense hasn't had much effect thus far. rita is insane... doing its intensification without nearly as much oceanic heat content as katrina had. the storm is slightly more compact and perhaps that makes for some of the difference. i do expect that rita will peak this evening and slowly cycle down over the next couple of days at it nears the coast. if anybody remembers what allen did, it's that just because an enormous hurricane is off the coast, it doesn't mean it will come in like that. i don't see anything less than a very expansive 3 out of this, and more likely 3/4 borderline... but that's still plenty to deal with. gonna keep my landfall point at sargent. don't see any reason to shift as guidance has been camped a little on either side for the past two days. if it works out it'll be very bad for greater houston, as galveston would get to sample the fate of biloxi, and houston metro would be raked with hours of hurricane force winds and get widespread moderate structural damage. east of houston is pretty bad too as the destruction would be worse in the beaumont/port arthur/orange area.. but i'm not betting on that. best place for rita to go is in at matagorda bay, as the region is less densely populated and the potential human impact won't be as overwhelming. the official is still camping around there which is somewhat reassuring. get ready for $4 a gallon gas next week. i'm hoping against hope that the scramble that jacked prices up worse than otherwise a few weeks ago won't be repeated, but people are probably going to stampede all the same. at least we don't have to worry about thousands of people getting stuck in a quagmire, 'cause i think the lesson of new orleans sunk in pretty well. beyond the coast, more modeling is suggesting erratic/slow/stalled behavior over east texas/oklahoma. the setup for a significant inland flooding threat is a potential reality here as well... that's something to expect.
elsewhere: philippe has been getting steadily weaker as rita grows. the upper low east of philippe has battered it into a weak tropical storm with a large area of disturbed weather to its east. theres a little trough tail hanging off of it into the caribbean, and a surface reflection with the shearing upper low as well. also a spot of persistent disturbed weather in the sw caribbean. these areas will need to be watched as the pattern-pulse should try to kick something up from off the east coast down to the caribbean next week. it's perhaps not related, but gfs is showing disturbed weather migrating out of the caribbean, though it hasn't been consistent and keeps changing the circulation features. there are also more cape verde origin features showing up, but this late in the season those usually have a hard time acting up. punchline is that when rita is gone there will likely be more activity. it's going unnoticed, but the strongest hurricane near hawaii in quite some time is weaving around east of the island chain. models take it northwest and never close enough to affect them, but a couple hundred miles difference and they'd be pretty nervous right now. another eastpac disturbance appears to be developing, so the upstream atlantic basin should continue active. HF 0000z22september
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