Tropical Storm Karen is headed toward the Gulf Coast this weekend, likely taking a similar path to the one that devastating Hurricane Katrina took in 2005. The good news?  Karen, which formed Thursday morning, should make landfall Saturday somewhere between New Orleans and Pensacola, Fla. Is projected to be a far weaker storm.

Karen is the 11th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. Only two of the storms have become hurricanes.

Tropical Storm Karen Is Forecast To Make Landfall Along The U.s. Gulf Coast On Saturday (Photo: National Hurricane Center
Tropical Storm Karen is forecast to make landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast on Saturday.
Photo: National Hurricane Center

Late Thursday, Karen had winds of 65 mph. It was located about 400 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving north-northwest at 12 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph.

Rainfall totals of from 4 to 8 inches can be expected to the east of where the storm makes landfall, reports meteorologist Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. Some minor coastal flooding is also possible.

The highest odds of tropical storm-force winds are along the coast from Buras, La., to Pensacola. Once the storm moves inland later Saturday, it should dump rain across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states Sunday and Monday.

It is estimated that 3- to 6-inch rainfall could occur as the storm tracks across the region, which doesn’t need the additional rainfall: Three states in the Southeast — Florida, Georgia and South Carolina — all endured their wettest summer on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

And what about the government shut down?  More good news! FEMA has to begun to recall furloughed employees to prepare for Karen, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Preparations were underway Thursday in Florida: Pensacola Beach Public Safety Director Bob West said lifeguard towers and trash cans will be removed from the beach and secured today or Friday. Officials in Escambia County (where Pensacola is located) so far are not implementing any emergency actions or voluntary evacuations in response to Karen.

As for storm names that start with the letter “K,” Katrina was only one of two “K” hurricanes to have its name “retired,” the other being Hurricane Keith, which pounded Central America in 2000.