Loc: Orlando, FL
A Messy Karen in Central Gulf
Thu Oct 03 2013 08:36 AM
7 AM EDT 4 October 2013 Update
Tropical Storm Karen is a bit of a mess this morning, with a fairly large model split it's a bit reminiscent of tropical storm Debby from last year which was being "split" by the models, and eventually, opposite to the official forecast, began moving to the northeast.
This is a similar situation, but for different reasons. Karen is battling transitioning conditions, while the low level center remains exposed well to the west of most of the convection. The GFS model, showing a hard right curve, vs some of the other models taking it into Louisiana.
This makes it rather complex of a forecast, it may remain weak today, but has a window to restrengthen tomorrow. If the GFS winds up right, or even partially right, it will remain over water longer and shoot further east when a trough may actually bring favorable conditions. There still is a hurricane watch up for parts of the coast for this reason, and anyone in the cone needs to keep this in mind.
The forecast lounge will have a bit more on this. Odds favor it staying below hurricane strength, but only barely, and those in the area need to be prepared, particularly on the eastern side of the cone. Either way plenty of rainfall parts for east of the landfall location.
The good short term news, is that the shear is overtaking the system and weakening it and the low level circulation is exposed which favors the system staying weak. And odds are it will remain weak and a rainmaker. The wildcard is if any center reformations happen to the east or not.
Recon missions are running continually into the storm.
Based on recon aircraft reports, the area of low pressure we have been tracking (97L) has entered into the southern Gulf with 60MPH maximum sustained winds and a closed circulation, thus Tropical Storm Karen. The cyclone is expected to be in a favorable environment for at least another day, and so will likely continue to strengthen the further north it gets.
Karen is forecast to become a hurricane. It will probably weaken some before approaching land, but how much depends on what its state is at the approach, and if it aligns with the shear, or not (which would be more likely if it tracks more to the right). Most likely it will be at tropical storm strength at landfall, probably on Saturday.
In short, the more west (left) in the cone Karen stays, the weaker it is likely to be; the further east (right) she travels, the more favorable for development. All of this depends on what impact the trough has on the system (which is likely the only thing that could nudge it much further east) Any in the hurricane watch area should be thinking about doing hurricane preps, though.
Hurricane watches are up from Grand Isle, Louisiana eastward to Indian Pass, FL (Southeast of Panama City)
The tropical storm watch was issues west of Grand Isle, LA to Morgan City, and includes New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
Mark Sudduth & Mike Watkins from hurricanetrack.com are headed there now. Track them on a map here.
Radar Recording of 97L approach to Cancun ( Alternate Animator )