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#47535 (Received by flhurricane at: 4:55 PM 21.Sep.2005)
TCDAT3
HURRICANE RITA DISCUSSION NUMBER 17
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
5 PM EDT WED SEP 21 2005

AND YET ANOTHER CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE THIS SEASON. DATA FROM BOTH
NOAA AND AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTERS INDICATE A SIGNIFICANT
PRESSURE DROP TODAY AND WINDS HAVE INCREASED TO 145 KNOTS. THIS IS
BASED ON A 700 MB WIND OF 161 KNOTS RECENTLY MEASURED BY AN AIR
FORCE PLANE AND A RECALIBRATED SFMR SURFACE WIND OF 146 KNOTS.
SATELLITE INTENSITY ESTIMATES WERE UNANIMOUSLY 140 KNOTS FROM ALL
AGENCIES. BECAUSE RITA WILL BE CROSSING AN AREA OF HIGH HEAT
CONTENT DURING THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS...IT IS EXPECTED THAT THE
HURRICANE WILL MAINTAIN ITS STRENGTH. THEREAFTER...THE OCEAN HEAT
CONTENT IS NOT AS HIGH AND THE INTENSITY CHANGES WILL BE CONTROLLED
MAINLY BY EYEWALL REPLACEMENT CYCLES AND DECREASING HEAT CONTENT.
SOME WEAKENING IS ANTICIPATED BUT RITA IS FORECAST TO MAKE LANDFALL
AS A MAJOR HURRICANE...AT LEAST CATEGORY THREE.

THERE HAS BEEN NO CHANGE IN THE STEERING PATTERN AND RITA IS MOVING
WESTWARD OR 275 DEGREES AT 11 KNOTS. THE HIGH PRESSURE SYSTEM THAT
HAS BEEN FORCING RITA WESTWARD IS FORECAST TO WEAKEN AND SHIFT
EASTWARD. THIS WILL ALLOW THE HURRICANE TO TURN GRADUALLY TOWARD
THE WEST-NORTHWEST AND NORTHWEST DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THE
CORE OF RITA IS BASICALLY MOVING TOWARD THE TEXAS COAST AND THIS IS
CONSISTENT WITH THE TRACK MODEL CONSENSUS.

THE WIND FIELD ASSOCIATED WITH THE HURRICANE HAS BEGUN TO EXPAND
AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ALREADY EXTEND ABOUT 150 N MI IN THE
NORTHERN SEMICIRCLE. BECAUSE ADDITIONAL EXPANSION OF THE WIND
FIELD IS ANTICIPATED...A HURRICANE WATCH AND A TROPICAL STORM WATCH
HAVE BEEN ISSUED FOR THE NORTHWEST GULF COAST.

FORECASTER AVILA

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 21/2100Z 24.4N 86.8W 145 KT
12HR VT 22/0600Z 24.5N 88.5W 145 KT
24HR VT 22/1800Z 25.2N 90.6W 145 KT
36HR VT 23/0600Z 26.0N 92.7W 135 KT
48HR VT 23/1800Z 27.0N 94.5W 125 KT
72HR VT 24/1800Z 30.5N 97.0W 65 KT...INLAND
96HR VT 25/1800Z 33.0N 97.0W 30 KT...INLAND
120HR VT 26/1800Z 36.0N 96.0W 25 KT...INLAND