Close to Being Tropical Storm Karen

By: Bryan Norcross , 1:35 AM GMT on October 03, 2013

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Time to pay attention to what's going on in the Caribbean. The system near the Yucatan just needs a bit more organization to be named Tropical Storm Karen, and it's moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. It's not clear what the final outcome is going to be. There are conflicting signals.

On one hand, the system is clearly intensifying in a favorable upper-air environment and over extremely warm water. This favorable situation will likely continue for the next day or two allowing the system to intensify into at least a moderately healthy tropical storm heading generally north.

On the other hand, the water in the eastern Gulf has limited heat content. (It's plenty warm, but that warm water doesn't extend far below the surface so cold water gets stirred up easily.) There is dry air over much of the Gulf, which may limit how quickly it can intensify. And probably more importantly, the upper winds are somewhere between less favorable and very unfavorable for a tropical system in the northern Gulf. And, they are expected to stay that way.

The computer models show the system reaching the northern Gulf Coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle over the weekend. The models that make the system stronger, like the U.S. GFS model, take it toward the Panhandle. The models that keep it weaker, like the Euro, take it farther west.

The odds are currently leaning toward something in between with the system strengthening and becoming fairly scary late tomorrow into Friday and then weakening somewhere between a little and a lot before reaching the coast. Under the current scenario, the upper winds don't look favorable enough over the northern Gulf to support a strong tropical storm or hurricane. But, remember, it doesn't take much to generate storm surge in the shallow northern Gulf. So for now, heads up. Action might be required somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast as soon as Friday.

We should have a better idea tomorrow when the system comes together a bit more, and the accurate wind profile and location of the lowest pressure are put into the models. Stay tuned.

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4. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
2:54 AM GMT on October 04, 2013
bnorcross has created a new entry.
3. Patrap
2:35 AM GMT on October 03, 2013
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
2. opal92nwf
2:19 AM GMT on October 03, 2013
Thanks for the update! Hope to hear your input as this situation unfolds.

Here in the FL Panhandle I am watching this very closely. And although the conditions are much different, I find it ironic that we are coming up on the anniversary of Hurricane Opal which slammed my area.

Anticipating some windy conditions and rain, but am wary that a cat 1 might be still be in the bag.

Member Since: May 12, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 2542
1. ChillinInTheKeys
1:43 AM GMT on October 03, 2013
Thanks Brian...

I wish you threw your 2 cents worth in more often!!!

Hope you will be posting again tomorrow. I recall you as the outlier in "92" when we lived off Griffin Road... Your forecast Saturday was for a probable South Florida hit. All of our neighbors thought we were nuts boarding up. Andrew ended up a bit further South and fortunately missed metropolitan Miami and Fort Lauderdale for the most part but it did trash my parents place off 280th Street in Homestead. Our families experience with hurricanes through our life had taught us well.
Member Since: August 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 679

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About bnorcross

This is the official blog for Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel.

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