Thursday, September 22, 2005

Local Rita - Updated


Outer-most bands of Hurricane Rita reached Northwest Florida Thursday afternoon and evening, causing brief, hard rain over some isolated areas as far inland as Jay and Milton and gusty conditions along the coast.

Reports from Pensacola Beach are that vigorous waves are "wrecking" the loose sand mounds that now serve as mock 'dunes'. The beach itself is undergoing serious erosion in places. It was a "red flag" day. Tomorrow, look for much the same.

Although Hurricane Rita is expected to turn northwest over the next 12 hours, Pensacola Beach still could be at the margin of this very large storm's effects. According to the nearby NOAA Mobile Weather Station"the threat of rip currents is very high along area beaches this afternoon" and "a coastal flood warning is in effect from Pascagoula [MS} to Destin [FL] through tomorrow."

Furthermore, as Rita nears a Texas or Louisiana landfall, "winds will increase into the 15 to 20 mph range along the coast with higher gusts." Locally, "large battering waves" are expected through Friday.

The Mobile station also cautions that isolated tornadoes and "a detached rainband" or two from Rita remain possibilities, depending on how quickly it turns north before making landfall.

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