Tropical Storm Karen – the sixth named storm in the Atlantic basin this September – is spinning over the Caribbean Sea, likely arriving in Puerto Rico as well as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands on Sept. 24. Karen will bring the potential for heavy rainfall and some gusty winds.
Based on National Hurricane Center (NHC) data, housed inside the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events platform, Karen was located about 155 miles south of St. Croix at 2 p.m. EDT today, Sept. 23. Its maximum sustained winds have been holding steady at 40 mph all day, and the NHC expects little to no change in strength during the next 48 hours.
In the short term, because of wind shear and some dry air intrusion, NHC meteorologists predict Karen could downgrade to a tropical depression or lose its tropical cyclone status altogether before it passes near Puerto Rico.
"It is also possible that Karen could degenerate into an open wave, if it has not done so already," the NHC's senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown told the Orlando Sentinel earlier today. "Regardless of whether or not Karen is a tropical cyclone [with a closed center of circulation] when it passes near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the system is likely to produce tropical-storm-force winds in squalls and heavy rainfall over those areas."
A minimum of 39 mph is required to classify the winds as "tropical storm force." So in the event that Karen maintains its strength instead of weakening, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a tropical storm warning for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as for Puerto Rico.
Even if winds don't become an issue, rainfall could cause temporary trouble. Totals could reach two to four inches, with pockets of up to eight inches possible. This could result in mudslides, localized flash flooding and potential roadblocks.
Long-term projections have Karen rebuilding strength once it heads north back into the Atlantic, and models have its forward speed slowing down and the storm shifting to the west. Sustained winds may reach 70 mph winds by Sept. 28 – only 4 mph shy of Category 1 hurricane intensity.
The majority of forecast models show Karen staying far away from the U.S. mainland. However, one shows it moving toward Georgia or South Carolina by Sept. 28 or 29. The European model, which typically has a good handle on tropical cyclones, has Karen avoiding Georgia and South Carolina, striking southern Florida on Sept. 30 or Oct. 1.
It's still too early to pinpoint Tropical Storm Karen's track and strength past midweek. However, shippers should keep tabs on it. They may want to err on the side of caution in order to get ahead of a possible mainland landfall in the Southeast early next week. Look for updates throughout the week on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
Image Sourced from Pixabay
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