National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Hurricane Rita

Hurricane Rita as seen from the NASA MODIS, September 21, 2005. Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

Rita was the 17th named tropical cyclone for the 2005 season. Forming September 17th, it grew into the Gulf of Mexico's second Category 5 hurricane by September 21st. Rita maximum sustained wind speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) occurred during the early morning hours of September 22. By the time this image was recorded the wind had decreased slightly to 165 mph (266 km/h).

Hurricane hunter aircraft recorded the fourth-lowest central pressure on record (895 millibars) in the Atlantic Basin. Rita made landfall in extreme southwestern Louisiana, near the Texas border, as a Category 3 hurricane with top winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) on September 24.

Rita produced a significant storm surge that devastated coastal communities in southwestern Louisiana, and its wind, rain, and tornadoes caused fatalities and a wide swath of damage from eastern Texas to Alabama.

Rita also produced storm surge flooding in parts of the Florida Keys as the storm's center passed between the Keys and Cuba en route to the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Rita poster. Download: 29"x42" (PDF - 35mb)