From the Sun-Sentinel:
Statement as of 5:00 am EDT on September 19, 2005
…Rita gathering strength in the Bahamas…
A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for all of the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas…including Florida Bay.
A Hurricane Warning is also in effect for the northwest Bahamas… excluding Grand Bahama and the Abacos.
A Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch remain in effect from Deerfield Beach southward to Florida City and continuing westward to East Cape Sable.
A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands…for the southeast and central Bahamas…and for Grand Bahama and the Abacos.
A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for the provinces of Villa Clara…Matanzas…Ciudad de Habana…la Habana…and Pinar del Rio. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the provinces of Ciego de Avila…Sancti Spiritus…and Cienfuegos.
A tropical storm watch remains in effect from west of East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee Florida.
For storm information specific to your area…including possible inland watches and warnings…please monitor products issued by your local weather office.
At 5 am EDT…0900z…the center of Tropical Storm Rita was located near latitude 22.7 north…longitude 74.3 west or about 250 miles… 405 km… southeast of Nassau and about 490 miles… 790 km…east-southeast of Key West Florida.
Rita is moving toward the west near 9 mph …15 km/hr. A motion just a little north of due west is expected over the next 24 hours.
Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph… 95 km/hr…with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is expected…and Rita could become a hurricane during the next 24 hours.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 115 miles …185 km from the center.
The latest minimum central pressure reported by reconaissance aircraft was 998 mb…29.47 inches.
Rita is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 6 inches over the southeastern and central Bahamas…with possible isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches. Storm totals of 6 to 10 inches…with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches will be possible in the Florida Keys and northwestern Cuba…with 3 to 5 inches possible across the southern Florida Peninsula.
Storm surge flooding of 6 to 8 feet above normal tide levels…along with large and dangerous battering waves…are possible in the Florida Keys in areas of onshore flow. Coastal storm surge flooding of 3 to 5 feet are possible along the extreme southeastern Florida coast…and in the northwestern Bahamas.
All’s quiet now, but tonight we’re supposed to get the first bands.