Tropical Storm Karen Expected To Hit Gulf Coast Saturday; Louisiana In "State Of Emergency"

By Anthony Rivas on October 3, 2013 7:23 PM EDT

Tropical Storm Karen, which formed near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday morning, is expected to make landfall on Saturday. A hurricane watch is in effect for parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast spanning from Grand Isle, Louisiana to west of Destin, Florida.

"Karen is expected to be at or near hurricane strength late Friday and early Saturday," a National Hurricane Center advisory said. As of 5 p.m. ET, Karen was about 400 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving north-northwest at 12 mph, with winds of 65 mph, USA Today reported.

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Tropical Storm Karen is expected to strengthen into a hurricane only briefly, however, and is forecast to be a strong tropical storm as it makes landfall. Meteorologists believe that the storm will produce more than a foot of rain and a dangerous storm surge along the Louisiana coastline and the Florida panhandle. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recalled some of its workers, who had been furloughed due to the government shutdown, from the Hurricane Liaison Team. 

"At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States, including in the Gulf Coast region, that are available to state and local partners if needed and requested," the agency said in a statement, according to CNN.

Karen is the 11th named storm of the hurricane season, but only two have become hurricanes, Technically a hurrican is a storm that includes winds that have reached speeds of 74 miles per hour. The 11th storm system usually emerges on Nov. 23, according to the Sun-Sentinel, but the weather is ahead of schedule this year.

After the storm makes landfall, it's expected to travel across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states between Sunday and Monday. Officials from both Louisiana and Florida also notified residents to stay alert. "We're not sure exactly where it's going yet, but we're asking residents to be prepared just in case," Brandy Zeiglar, an Escambia County public information officer told USA Today. Pensacola, Fl. is part of Escambia County.   

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