Tropical Depression Karen Information
We will be updating this post through the next few days as Tropical
Storm Depression Karen moves north toward the Gulf Coast. Scroll down below the track and links for the latest updates from WHNT News 19.
Some links for instant tracking information and news:
The “10PM” update from the National Hurricane Center downgrades Karen to a tropical depression with sustained winds of only 35mph. No tropical watches or warnings are currently in effect.
Karen is stationary at the moment, but will soon head east skirting the Gulf Coast as a weakening depression before dissolving into an area of low pressure by Monday. The main concerns for the Southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle remain stormy weather, above normal tides, and rip currents.
As of 3:40PM… The Hurricane Center is keeping Karen designated as a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40mph. The storm is expected to make a right (easterly) turn overnight and weaken to a tropical depression sometime on Sunday
All tropical storm watches have been dropped. The main concerns for the Gulf Coasts of Florida and Alabama will be sustained winds of 30 to 35mph gusting to about 45mph, high tides and rip-currents.
Tropical Storm Karen is barely holding on as it
nears the northern Gulf Coast. Maximum sustained winds remain at 40 mph.
Karen will likely weaken into a depression before moving inland over
southeast Louisiana late tonight, before moving into late Sunday.
Despite the weakening Karen, high surf and dangerous rip currents will
continue along the coastline.
It’s a safe bet that Tropical Storm Karen will not be a major storm on the Alabama or Florida Gulf Coasts. That’s not to say it won’t cause some problems; windy, rainy weather is no picnic, and some gusts could still top out over 50 MPH. These two maps tell a lot of the story: cooler water temperatures in front of it (70-73º F) and a lot of dry air on the west side reducing thunderstorm development. I’d be surprised if there is a wind gust higher than 55 MPH on the Florida or Alabama coast; that means the storm in the Plains producing snow and severe weather should be the attention-getter instead of the tropical system.
The 4:00PM update from the National Hurricane Center has Karen producing maximum sustained winds of 50mph with gusts to 65mph with NNW movement at 5mph. The NHC is still expecting close to a 50% chance for sustained winds over 40mph from New Orleans to Panama City as it makes landfall on Sunday.
The hurricane watch has been downgraded to a tropical storm watch.
Maximum sustained winds still at 50 MPH; no sign of strengthening with the last update from NHC. If you’re wondering about impacts at the beach and our weather here, click over to http://www.whnt.com/weather/forecast/ …we have information for the beach, college football games, and the rainy Sunday.
Interesting stat from the winter storm in South Dakota via @trobec (Jay Trobec). The October snow storm may end up being the windier, more destructive of the two big weather makers (itself and Tropical Storm Karen).
Interstate 90 now closed from Wall, SD to the Wyoming border. Recent wind gusts: Wall 59 mph, Rapid City downtown 68 mph.
Governor Bentley declares a State of Emergency:
Karen’s low level center of circulation is exposed. All of the heavy tropical thunderstorms are well east of the center; that is a sign of a somewhat disorganized system that won’t be strengthening much. Again, if you’ve got beach plans at the Gulf Coast of Alabama or Florida, the surf will be rough this weekend, but Sunday looks to be the windy, wet day with some wind gusts over 50 MPH possible.
The cold front moving into the Valley on Sunday gives us our best shot at some rain and thunderstorms. While severe weather is unlikely, a few spots are going to get some good soaking rain. This is the latest rainfall forecast guidance from WPC (NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center). It is model-derived, so it’s still “guidance”…not an exact prediction.
The morning model suite is positive news for the Gulf Coast. Karen is weaker today (winds at 45 MPH last update), and it should stay at Tropical Storm strength or weaken below it as it approaches the north central Gulf Coast on Sunday morning. Here’s the model guidance; we still look for the greatest potential for heavy rain from to be a little south of the Tennessee Valley. There is a chance a few spots could still get more than an inch of rain on Sunday and Monday.
As expected, the NAM is the outlier amongst the more trustworthy models. Karen still a tropical storm this evening headed north-northwest. There is a chance it could become a hurricane, but it’s not a good one. We think it will probably stay a tropical storm (possibly briefly strengthening into a hurricane before weakening again).
The evening run of the NAM (which is notoriously bad at forecasting tropical cyclones) is shifting it farther west toward the Louisiana Gulf Coast. If that happens, it throws a monkey wrench in the whole forecast for the weekend by delaying the cold front and sending most of the rain into the Tennessee Valley later Sunday into Monday. We’ll watch and see if this is a trend with the more robust global models that typically do a better job with storms of this type.