Meridian Star

October 4, 2013

TS Karen likely to bring just rain to area

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The hurricane season for the Gulf of Mexico has been quiet this year so the emergence of Tropical Storm Karen early Thursday morning has finally given meteorologists something to look at on their satellite screens.

    But even though Karen is expected to morph into a Category 1 hurricane for a brief period of time, she isn't expected to make landfall as one.

    "We have a cold front coming down at the same time Karen is expected to make full landfall and that will take much of the punch out of the storm," said David Cox, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. "The wind shear with the cold front is fairly strong so that will work in favor of keeping Karen down to just a rainmaker."

    For the Lauderdale County and East Mississippi area, Cox said Karen will likely just bring rain amounting to an inch or a little more. Once Karen makes landfall, Cox said the storm will be pushed eastward by the approaching cold front making the storm's stay in our area fairly brief.

    The latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center at 4 p.m. Thursday stated there is a tropical storm warning from Grand Isle, La., along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A tropical storm watch, according to the advisory, will continue along the coast to just west of Destin, Fla.

    In tracking the storm, the NHC noted Karen became a tropical storm shortly after crossing the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula early Thursday morning. Maximum sustained winds as of Thursday evening were about 70 mph with gusts of 85 mph. The NHC computer models said the storm should barely reach Category 1 hurricane status sometime Friday with sustained winds of 75 mph. But the storm's hurricane status is expected to be short-lived.

    By Saturday, the NHC said Karen should be back at tropical storm strength with landfall sometime early Sunday morning. The eastern most edge of the storm is expected to follow Interstate 59 north-northeast to Meridian before moving off to the east-northeast with the impending cold front entering the region. Winds at landfall are forecast to be between 50 and 70 mph and then drop dramatically once the entire system is over land.