News

Tropical Storm Karen heads toward U.S. Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Karen heads toward U.S. Gulf Coast

BRACING FOR THE STORM: Workers pump water from the parking lot of the Dadeland Plaza shopping center, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, after heavy rains in Pinecrest, Fla., a suburb of Miami. Preparations began Thursday along the central Gulf Coast as newly formed Tropical Storm Karen threatened to become the first named tropical system to menace the United States this year. Photo: Associated Press/AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) – The first cyclone to threaten the U.S. coast this year moved across the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and was forecast to sweep through offshore oil installations before hitting the mainland between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Some energy companies in the Gulf started shutting down production and evacuating workers from offshore platforms as Tropical Storm Karen approached a region that produces nearly a fifth of daily U.S. oil output.

Three days after much of the U.S. government was closed down over a budget standoff, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began recalling furloughed workers to help prepare for the storm.

Karen, the first storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season to take aim at the United States, had top winds of 65 mph and was centered about 340 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

It was moving north-northwest and was expected to strengthen to just below hurricane strength by late Friday, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

Coastal residents could start feeling its bluster by Friday night. On its current track the storm’s center was expected to cross the coastline near the Mississippi-Alabama border by late on Saturday.

A hurricane watch was issued for the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana, south of New Orleans, to Destin, Florida, alerting residents to expect hurricane conditions within 48 hours.

A tropical storm watch was in effect in Louisiana from west of Grand Isle to east of Morgan City. The watch area included metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. Tropical storms carry winds of 39 mph to 73 mph.

Heavy rains were forecast all along the Gulf Coast into northern Florida, the forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center forecasters were exempt from the U.S. government shutdown because their work is vital to protecting life and property. Their parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, advised that some weather satellite images available to the public on its website “may not be up to date” because of the shutdown.

Recently Played

Latest Headlines

in Entertainment

‘Girls’ star Allison Williams to play Peter Pan on live TV

Fresh
alisonwilliams

The star of the HBO comedy will play Peter Pan opposite Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in the TV musical special "Peter Pan Live! on NBC."

in Music

Miranda Lambert working on comedy screenplay

miranda

Miranda Lambert is hoping to add screenplay writer and actress to her resumé.

in Entertainment

Chris Pratt goes from slob to heartthrob

chrispratt

With a more buff physique than his character Andy Dwyer on "Parks and Recreation," Pratt combines cocky and dorky into an unlikely leader of a band of outcasts bent on saving the galaxy.

in Viral Videos

Little girl doesn’t want her brother to grow up

Sister Grows Up

Five-year-old Sadie doesn't want her little brother to grow up because he's too cute now as a baby.

in Entertainment

Drew Barrymore’s sister found dead

drewbarrymore

Jessica Barrymore, daughter of actors John Drew Barrymore and Nina Wayne, was found dead in her car.