Tropical Storm Karen forms in Gulf of Mexico

The area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico has become Tropical Storm Karen, producing winds up to 60 mph.

NOAA

The area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico has become Tropical Storm Karen, producing winds up to 60 mph.

Tropical Storm Karen is taking aim along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida.

NOAA

Tropical Storm Karen is taking aim along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida.

Storm Shield is a potentially life-saving iPhone weather app that acts like a NOAA Emergency Weather Radio. When weather warnings and watches are issued by the National Weather Service for your chosen areas, you will receive critical alerts via voice and push notification.

Download for iPhone
Download for Android
Tropical Depression Jerry is centered about 985 miles west-southwest of the Azores and is moving northeast near 9 mph.

NOAA

Tropical Depression Jerry is centered about 985 miles west-southwest of the Azores and is moving northeast near 9 mph.

Preparations began Thursday along the central Gulf Coast as newly formed Tropical Storm Karen threatened to become the first named tropical system to menace the United States this year.

Hurricane and tropical storm watches were posted from southeast Louisiana to Florida and some oil and gas platforms in the storm's projected path were being secured and evacuated.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Karen was about 485 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

The hurricane watch was in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass in the Florida Panhandle. A tropical storm watch also was in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast west of Grand Isle, including the New Orleans area.

Karen was moving north-northwest at 12 mph. It could be at or near hurricane strength by Friday, forecasters said.

While meteorologists said it was too soon to predict the storm's ultimate intensity, they said it could weaken a bit as it approaches the coast over the weekend.

"Our forecast calls for it to be right around the border of a hurricane and a tropical storm," said David Zelinsky, a hurricane center meteorologist.

Whether a weak hurricane or strong tropical storm, Karen's effects are expected to be largely the same: heavy rain and the potential for similar storm surge.

Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle, whose barrier island community about 60 miles south of New Orleans is often the first to order an evacuation in the face of a tropical weather system, said the town is making sure its 10 pump stations are ready. He is encouraging residents and clean out drainage culverts and ditches in anticipation of possible heavy rain and high tides.

Otherwise, residents were monitoring the storm and hoping to dodge the foul weather.

"Hopefully, this one is just a little rain event," said Camardelle "We don't need a big storm coming at us this late in the season."

Zelinsky said residents in the warning areas should listen to their local emergency managers for advisories. "Now is the time to begin making preparations," Zelinsky said.

Forecasters said a cold front approaching from the northwest was expected to turn Karen to the northeast, away from the Louisiana coast and more toward the Florida Panhandle or coastal Alabama. But the timing of the front's arrival over the weekend was uncertain.

Grand Isle suffered damage from Hurricane Isaac in August 2012. Isaac clipped the mouth of the Mississippi River for its official first landfall before meandering northwest over Grand Isle and stalling inland. Though a weak hurricane, Isaac's stall built a surge along the southeast Louisiana coast that flooded communities in neighboring Plaquemines Parish.

Mike Steele, a spokesman for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said a conference call was planned Thursday morning for state and parish officials to discuss the storm.

"Just so we can be in contact and see if there are any needs we can help meet," Steele said.

Karen was expected to pass over Gulf oil and gas fields from Louisiana to Alabama, but early forecasts suggested the storm would miss the massive oil import facility at Port Fourchon, La., just west of Grand Isle, and the oil refineries that line the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge.

Oil giant BP said it has begun securing offshore rigs and evacuating non-essential workers from its four company-operated production platforms in Karen's projected path.

Other oil companies were expected to take similar action.

EARLIER:

While Tropical Storm Karen is not headed to Southwest Florida, it will help transport tropical moisture into the area. Coverage of showers and storms today will be around 60 percent of the region today and Friday, and slightly less on Saturday, NBC2 reports.

When this three-day stretch of wet weather is over, many places in Southwest Florida will end up with 1 to 2 inches of rain. Karen likely not be a huge rain event like the region saw last week, but could still cause some problems in places that are still dealing with drainage and flood problems, NBC2 reports.

There is also a possibility that this tropical system strengthens enough that it actually pulls most of the moisture into itself and leaves Southwest Florida with drier weather.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Jerry is expected to weaken in the Atlantic. The depression's maximum sustained winds early Thursday are near 35 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the depression is expected to become a remnant low on Friday.

Jerry is centered about 985 miles west-southwest of the Azores and is moving northeast near 9 mph. The depression isn't currently threatening any land.

EARLIER:

An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter airplane indicates that the area of low pressure in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico has become a tropical storm, producing winds up to 60 mph.

Hurricane and tropical storm watches associated with Tropical Storm Karen will be issued within the next hour, the National Hurricane center in Miami reports. Tropical storm watches will be issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast.

This system has a high chance of increasing strength during the next few days as it moves north-northwest through the Gulf.

Heavy rains could affect portions of Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula during the next day or two, the Hurricane Center reports.

SW Florida weather: More tropical rain on way

CLICK HERE for the week’s complete weather forecast from NBC-2

CLICK HERE for interactive weather radar and the week's local forecast

HURRICANE GUIDE: Find videos, photos and stories about how to prepare for hurricane season at hurricane2013.com.


© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features