Tropical Storm Karen Update – Friday 6 AM Update

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 5.37.30 AM


Tropical Storm Karen continues to churn in the central Gulf of Mexico early this Friday morning. Here are the latest stats from the 4 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center:

Max sustained winds: 60 mph
Minimum central pressure: 1002mb
Location: 295 miles south of Mouth of Mississippi River
Movement: NW @ 10 mph

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 5.42.24 AMHere’s the latest official track from the NHC. Overall, there hasn’t been much change to the official track other. Based on this forecast, Karen would track across the southeastern shores of Louisiana and make landfall somewhere near the MS/AL Gulf Coastal state line, and then continue northeastward after that.

There remains a large model spread. The NAM model wants to take Karen farther west, followed by a quick northeastward turn. Meanwhile, the GFS model wants to take Karen into the Florida Big Bend. For now, I think this is the best course of action – a track in the middle of the extremes where models like the Euro lie in the guidance envelope.

West AL Forecast for Friday: The sky will be partly sunny today, and a couple of isolated showers could show up on the radar this afternoon with temperatures in the 80s. Friday night football across the area should be A-OK in the rain department.

Karen Impacts on Us / West AL Forecast for Saturday: It’s looking like at least the first half of Saturday, including Alabama’s game with Georgie State (kickoff 11:21 AM) will be dry as an easterly flow persists across our area to the north of Karen. There is a small risk of a shower during the day, but for now we look mainly dry. Where the harder part comes in is how Karen will interact with the upper-air trough of low pressure approaching us from the west, and the timing of this potential interaction.

For right now, our local impacts remain largely unchanged from previous posts. Rain should gradually increase from southwest to northeast across southwest Alabama later Saturday evening (likely after 6 pm). There may wind up being a sharp gradient in the rain coverage because all models show Karen a rather compact storm, so the threat of any potential flooding will be highly dependent on the track of Karen. As it stands now, the highest threat of flooding remains over southern Alabama (south of Highway 80, likely south of Highway 84).

We have to keep in mind the approaching front as well. There could be an area of enhanced rainfall limited to right ahead of the front sometime Sunday morning as well. Overall, total rain amounts for the Tuscaloosa area should range from .5″ to 1.5″ with higher totals to the southeast in an axis from places like Mobile to Montgomery to Auburn.

The graphic below shows these rain potentials well. This is the latest rainfall accumulation projection from the HPC over the next 5 days:

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 5.52.24 AM

Furthermore, due to the expected compact nature of Karen, wind gusts should not become too much of an issue up in our neck of the woods as well. South of I-20, winds could gust up to 30 maybe 35 mph at times Saturday night into Sunday morning, but again the higher threat of stronger wind gusts should reside over southern Alabama, as this area should remain in the northeast quadrant of the storm.

The good news is too, is for right now is we aren’t expecting much of a tornado threat with this system at least in our area of west-central Alabama. There  is a very low threat of an isolated, weak spin-up tornado over far southern parts of our coverage area, south of Highway 80.

Please keep in mind, however, that any track changes to Karen will have impacts on our forecast. A track more to the south and east (like the GFS suggests) will minimize impacts even further across our area. A track more toward the west and north (like the NAM shows) could increase our gusty wind/isolated tornado threat.

After Sunday, we should see the sky begin to slowly clear and by Monday afternoon, we should see return of maximum sunshine and fall-like temperatures!

I’ll have another update later this morning after the next full advisory suite is delivered from NHC, stay tuned!

Isaac Williams
WVUA-TV Weather
Twitter: @WVUA_Isaac



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