Karen moving north, expect turn to northeast

Tropical Storm Karen stalled in the Gulf of Mexico late Saturday morning but was expected to continue it’s march north later in the afternoon with a turn toward the northeast sometime in the evening.

The National Hurricane Center reported in its 1 p.m. Saturday update that Karen’s maximum sustained winds had dropped to 40 mph, making it a weak tropical storm. As of that hour the storm was located about 190 miles west-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The center of Tropical Storm Karen will move near or over parts of southeast Louisiana Saturday evening and Sunday morning ,nearing the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama Sunday and Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical depression on Sunday.

Rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches over the central Gulf Coast and southeastern U.S. are possible through Monday night, with isolated totals up to 6 inches.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River, which forms part of the border between Louisiana and Mississippi. A tropical storm watch covers the New Orleans area and a stretch from east of the Pearl River’s mouth to Indian Pass, Fla.

On Friday evening, wind shear, dry air and other factors continued to tear at Karen, which caused the National Hurricane Center to drop all hurricane watches and warnings for the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Locally, East Baton Rouge Parish could see some rain this weekend, but the primary cause will be from an incoming cold front from the north, not the tropical storm from the south.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see any rain from this system in Baton Rouge,” state climatologist Barry Keim said.

There could be some rain bands from Tropical Storm Karen that will come through the area, he said, but the forecast calls for Baton Rouge to get about an inch of rain total this weekend. In addition, Baton Rouge shouldn’t see much in the way of high winds either with the top forecasted winds for the area being 14 mph.

“We’re just far enough from this thing we won’t see much from this,” Keim said.

Plaquemines Parish changed its mandatory evacuation order to voluntary one Saturday, a spokeswoman said, and a dusk-to-dawn curfew is in effect on the eastbank, except for residents returning home from evacuations.

Farther to the west, an evacuation order was issued in Lafourche Parish for anyone south of the lock in Golden Meadow. Levee board director Windell Curole said he wasn’t expecting the storm to challenge the levee system’s capabilities.

“I don’t expect too much,” he said. “If we get 2 or 3 feet above normal tides, I’d be surprised.”

Of course all of that can change because with tropical storms all you can deal with is what you see today, he said.