12:30PM Update Rita continues to weaken early this afternoon, with the pressure in the storm having risen to 913mb. The storm is well into the middle of a concentric eyewall cycle, as advertised last night, and should complete that cycle later today as a weaker system. The track forecast takes the system to near the TX/LA border, though drastic shifts west or east are unfortunately possible depending upon the evolution of the pattern. The potential for 25" of rain after the storm moves inland is being advertised by the NHC as well. More to come later.
7 AM Update Hurricane Rita has maintained its intensity overnight but now has dropped to 170MPH winds this morning, The pressure has risen above 900 again, and the storm has found a more northern component to the motion, so tracks have shifted right, to the right side of the Bay near Galveston. And may shift again, either way.
Regardless anywhere along that part of the coast in the cone needs to prepare.
Intensity wise with the new track, it stays over the warmer currents for longer, but more shear is forecast in the future, so some weeakening is expected before landfall, but when and where are important with that.
The track has trended north and east of late, and it will be interesting to see if this continues or even reverses.
11PM Update Hurricane Rita remains the 3rd strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin by pressure.
The pressure now sits at 897mb (26.49 in), with maximum sustained winds of 150kt/170-175mph. It is still moving generally westward, with a hint of a northerly component. Slight additional strengthening is forecast within the next 12 hours before slow weakening to landfall as a intense category 4 or 5 storm along the central Texas coastline.
It is currently forecast to landfall just west of Galveston. Hurricane Watches may be upgraded to warnings tomorrow morning for portions of the hurricane watch area.
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