This is the official blog for Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel.
By: Bryan Norcross , 2:54 AM GMT on October 04, 2013
Tropical Storm Karen is still sending out conflicting signals. The storm looks terrible on the satellite... it's clearly being pulled apart by moderately unfavorable upper-level winds. But, the Hurricane Hunters found a reasonable healthy circulation with decently low pressure. This is telling us that the atmospheric environment is marginal, but if it became a little more favorable the storm would likely strengthen.
IF (big if) that's going to happen, it will be today (Friday). The question is, how much will it strengthen, if it does, before the upper winds become much less favorable as Karen approaches the Gulf coast? At that time, a weakening trend will likely get underway as the system gets swept up to the northeast.
The Hurricane Center is thinking that there's a chance it could get a burst of intensity if the pattern becomes briefly more favorable sometime today... and maybe make it near hurricane strength. Then it could still be at least close to hurricane strength when it gets to the central Gulf coast. So their forecast, watches, and warnings are based on that. There's a slightly better chance, however, that that burst won't happen. But, it's just too close to call... so we plan for the stronger possibility... for now.
In any case, SOME PART of the coastline on the Gulf coast between Louisiana and Florida, as far down as Tampa Bay, will see the Gulf water rise, pushed up by the winds from Karen. This storm surge... the height that the water would rise on your body if you were standing on the beach at the high-tide line... could be 2 to 4 feet if landfall comes at high tide, especially west of Mobile Bay including the vulnerable areas of Louisiana and in Florida's Apalachee Bay. But this is dependent on the storm's strength and angle of approach to the coast, both of which are still unknown. So many area may not see anything like this effect.
So... everybody right along the coast and in low-lying areas, be sure you're tuned in tomorrow. By the end of the day we should know the level of threat for the weekend.
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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