October 4, 2013
Tropical Storm Karen turns toward the Panhandle
Tropical Storm Karen has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and will move into the southern United States this weekend with heavy rain, gusty winds and rough seas. Karen will continue to move along a curved northward path over the central Gulf of Mexico through Friday. During Saturday, Karen will begin to turn toward the northeast. Landfall is expected along the upper Gulf Coast from southeast of New Orleans to west of Panama City, Fla., late Saturday night into early Sunday morning.
There is a chance that Karen will become a hurricane prior to making landfall. Winds associated with Karen have reached 65 mph during its trek through the open Gulf waters. The threshold for a tropical system to become a hurricane is sustained winds of 74 mph. Karen is expected to make landfall as a tropical storm, however. Unfavorable winds aloft will prevent rapid strengthening and may slightly weaken the storm as it heads towards land. Hurricane-force gusts may still occur along the coast as it comes onshore. Near and just east of where Karen makes landfall, minor coastal flooding is possible. Wind gusts in the neighborhood of 65 mph can cause minor property damage, downed trees and power outages. Showers and thunderstorms will become more frequent from the Florida Panhandle to southeastern Louisiana Saturday.
As Karen continues to head toward the coast, seas will gradually build over the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico. As seas build, the frequency and strength of rip currents will increase along with the possibility of beach erosion. Rainfall can be heavy enough to alleviate recent dry conditions in some locations of the South. However, the rain may raise the risk of flooding for parts of the region, not only near the Gulf Coast, but also inland as the storm moves northeastward over the interior South. A pocket of 3- to 6-inch rainfall can occur close to the center of the storm track, inland as far as the southern Appalachians and Piedmont.
Sometimes as tropical systems make landfall, tornadoes can be produced. According to AccuWeather.com Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, "Tornadoes are a possibility, north and east of the landfall Saturday into Sunday morning, focusing on the Florida Panhandle, but perhaps a far west as southern Alabama and southeastern Mississippi."
Karen first started as a cluster of showers and thunderstorms across the southern and central Caribbean. Disruptive winds kept development to a minimum but as the disturbance moved into the Gulf, warmer waters and less land interaction allowed some strengthening to occur. Winds aloft still remain unfavorable which has kept Karen from rapidly intensifying. Other storm systems across the United States will dictate where Karen and its associated moisture heads after landfall.
By: Michael Doll, Meteorologist – AccuWeather.com
Posted by AG-ER Team at 10/04/2013