Don’t Get Complacent

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September 23, 2005 at 1:02 pm

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This is why everyone still searching for shelter, or God forbid still trying to traverse the Texas highways and backroads, needs to get to safety before this evening and STAY PUT until the danger has passed:

After landfall — all computer guidance indicates Rita will be slowing down and likely going quasi-stationary by late Saturday night and Sunday. The model tracks diverge tremendously at that point, with some models drifting the storm east, and some drifting it back southwest. Typical when steering currents are expected to become extremely weak. What is apparent, is that a prolonged, 48 hour period of torrential rains are likely across Louisiana and southwestward into the upper coastal Plains of Texas – with 25″ of rain likely in some

locations. This will lead to a life threatening flash flood situation inland, after the storm has long made landfall.

The weather here in San Antonio remains characteristically sunny and hot with only a slight breeze that began in the past hour or so.

The urgency we felt here in San Antonio about the storm’s likely impacts (flooding rains, tornadoes and high winds) has dissipated somewhat as Rita’s lumbered eastward, and now our official weather forecasts don’t even mention rain until Sunday. That said, I find it hard to believe with Rita as large and close to San Antonio as she is, that we will not see heavy rain showers earlier than Sunday.

And what she brings for the next 5-7 days, I can only imagine.

So many of the computer models (I counted 8 or 10) show Rita after landfall veering westward and planting herself there for days.

Some of our worst rain events in South Texas have been due to tropical storms and the extreme weather potential that summertime heat and humidity bring. I don’t think we’re in dire straits, and certainly believe those sheltering here in San Antonio are far safer than if they tried to ride out the storm in Galveston, low-lying areas of Houston or other coastal cities. But I wish our local weather forecasters would start preparing people for at least the potential for a heavy or drawn-out rain event here in San Antonio and the surrounding area, because the current weather is doing nothing to prepare folks.

Being married to a pilot, I know that weather forecasts even in the best of circumstances are really only good as far out as you can throw them. We never fly without Justin having monitored the weather the night before a flight, as well as through one or two forecast cycles in the morning before we head to the airport.

Early on in his pursuit of aviation, I might have silently thought that was a bit of “planning paralysis”, but I can tell you we have seen wild weather changes in very short spans of time too many times to not justify this behavior.

So what does this mean for the hurricane and San Antonio’s weather? It means I’ll believe the weather forecasts when I can see it outside… and not much further out than that. With the onset of the light breezy winds here in Northeast San Antonio, that indicates to me weather-maker Rita is finally within range of influencing our weather.

Couple our extremely high temperatures with Rita’s energy and moisture content, and I expect rain to be here no later than early Saturday afternoon. What type and volume of rain is anyone’s guess, but I just can’t wrap my head around it not bringing moisture until Sunday.

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