WRUF Weather

Karen no longer a tropical threat, but gusty winds and strong storms still possible in North Florida Monday

Karen is barely still a tropical storm as strong winds aloft have – in the words of the National Hurricane Center – “decapitated the storm”. And while significant tropical storm impacts are no longer expected, some Floridians could still see hazardous weather Sunday and Monday as the storm’s remnant circulation passes by.  The primary threats that remain from Karen are heavy rain and damaging wind gusts from clusters of thunderstorms.


  • Karen barely still a tropical storm and has stalled south of Louisiana
  • Sudden turn to northeast likely Sunday; will roughly parallel the coast
  • Heavy rain and damaging wind gusts still possible for parts of North Florida Sunday night and Monday

Satellite data Saturday continued to indicate a strong amount of wind shear was affecting Tropical Storm Karen, evident by how far the thunderstorms were being blown away from the center of circulation.  As of the 5pm Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the storm had stalled about 130 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana and only had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.  Very little rain has actually fallen over land so far because of the orientation of stronger winds aloft keeping the heaviest thunderstorms out to sea.  And as of this report, only a 1 to 1.5 foot sea-level rise was reported along the southeast Louisiana coast.

The forecast for Tropical Storm Karen is much clearer than it was 24 hours ago, and the Southeastern U.S. coastline will likely be spared any significant tropical storm impacts.  A sudden turn to the northeast (or even east-northeast) is still likely by Sunday morning as the upper-level steering pattern abruptly shifts due to an approaching front.  Thereafter, forecast guidance is a bit inconclusive on Karen’s exact track toward the Florida panhandle, but that is almost a moot point considering how weak the system will be.  Strong wind shear is forecast to continue, disallowing Karen the opportunity to strengthen much more before interacting with land Sunday.  In fact, the structural integrity of the system will be so significantly challenged that Karen could be absorbed entirely by an approaching cold front Monday over southern Georgia.

Damaging wind and isolated tornadoes can not be ruled out across the panhandle Sunday Night, then again also in North-Central Florida on Monday.  The upper-level dynamics and remnant low pressure from Karen could provide enough instability and moisture for a broken squall-line of strong thunderstorms to form along the tail end of a powerful cold front as it swings southeast.  Details on when and where these storms may form will be clearer as the situation unfolds on Sunday.  Residents of the Florida panhandle and north-central part of the state are encouraged to stay informed of future forecasts until Tropical Storm Karen or the remnant energy from the storm passes through.

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