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Tropical Storm Karen Forms In the Gulf of Mexico

Latest Information: According to the latest info from the Hurricane Hunters, we now have Tropical Storm Karen in the Southern Gulf of Mexico.  Winds are sustained at 60 mph, pressure is 1005 mb and it is tracking to the north at 10 mph.  At the moment, this system is forecast to track to the north toward the Northern Gulf Coast States of LA to the FL Panhandle.  Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches are in effect for the SE LA Coast through the Florida Panhandle.

Strength: Conditions are favorable today and tomorrow for some strengthening, and Karen is forecast to become a weak hurricane.  It will move over some warm Gulf waters and that is fuel for the storm.  However, as Karen approaches land the conditions will not be favorable by Saturday as it will move through some strong wind shear.  Also, there is a lot of dry air over the Central and Western Gulf, and this will limit the amount of strengthening.  The cold front is still forecast to move in this weekend, but looks to be a little slower.  Now it will pass across SE LA on Sunday.  The front will deflect the tropical system to the northeast and absorb it.  Landfall is forecast to be sometime Saturday Evening along the AL and FL border.  It is forecast to be a strong tropical storm at that time.

Forecast Track: Now if Karen takes on the track forecast by the GFS model (which is close to the official NHC track) then it would be more to the east of the NHC track, and Karen could be stronger.  If the storm tracks more to the west, thanks to the cold front pulling it more to the north, which is forecast by the ECMWF model, then Karen would move through some drier air and would be weaker.  This western track would also mean a Louisiana Landfall, but it would be a weak storm.  Right now, it looks to be more to the east of Louisiana thanks to the cold front pushing it that way.  Needless to say, I will be CLOSELY watching this and you should too.

Louisiana Impacts:  The SE Louisiana Coast from Grand Isle through the LA/MS border: these areas will likely see the worst of Karen.  Those areas can expect tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and a storm surge.

From Grand Isle west to Morgan City, LA: the weather will not be as bad, but there will still be strong winds, heavy rain and some storm surge flooding.

Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas:  Strong gusty winds, heavy rain and some coastal flooding from the storm surge are possible.

Baton Rouge:  We will have scattered showers and thunderstorms, but since we are on the western-side of the system we will have more northerly winds.  The bulk of our rain will come from the cold front and only some rain that streams inland from Karen.  There will be a little breeze too, but nothing strong.

New Orleans:  Scattered showers and storms with heavy rain will move over the city as the storm approaches.  Winds will be close to tropical storm strength (39+ mph) around the city.  Some coastal flooding is possible and flash flooding too from any heavy rain.

Keep it tuned to WBRZ and my weather blog for additional updates!!  


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