Karen's location as of 2:38 p.m. Thursday. Source: WBRC
VIPIR Model forecast for Sunday at 6 a.m. Source: WBRC
The current predicted path for Tropical Storm Karen does not bode well for the Alabama Gulf Coast. (Source: NHC)
A 10 a.m. update on the projected track for Tropical Storm Karen. Source: NWS
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
The FOX6 StormWarn Team continues to monitor Tropical Storm Karen as it moves north towards the Gulf Coast.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the disturbance to a tropical storm earlier Thursday. Around 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, the Alabama Gulf Coast was placed under a hurricane watch.
According to the FOX6 StormWarn Team, Alabama is a likely target for the storm.
Fox6 Chief Meteorologist J-P Dice says Karen is expected to strengthen and weaken right before landfall. Most likely, that landfall will be somewhere between Pensacola and Biloxi. After landfall, Karen is expected to turn northeast.
Dice says the latest VIPIR model suggests Karen will continue on a northernly track, then turn east.
Dice says the turn could mean a landfall between Pensacola and Panama City sometime early Sunday morning. Dothan, Enterprise, Troy, Auburn and South Georgia would likely see heavy rain, and also high wind gusts.
Those areas would also experience an enhanced potential for spin-up tornadoes. Dice says the storm surge due to Karen should be "minimal" at less than three feet with winds likely between 30 and 40 mph.
Dice says the impact could be even less in Gulf Shores and Orange beach if the storm continues along its projected track.
In the Fox6 viewing area, the biggest risk will be heavy rainfall. Dice says 2-3 inches or rainfall can be expected between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
"It's possible the impact across Central Alabama will be minimal. I do think we'll see rain and a few thunderstorms from the approaching front, but it's likely Karen will turn quickly to the east and we will remain on the dry side of the system," Dice said.
Saturday should be mostly dry with the rain coming in around 5 p.m. A low risk of flooding could also come with the system and the greatest risk of tornadoes should remain in South Alabama.
Currently, Karen has maximum sustained winds at 65 mph and is moving about 12 mph. It is expected to be close to hurricane strength by Friday.
At least one Alabama Gulf city, Gulf Shores, have posted double red flags at the beaches and closed access to the water.
FOX6 Meteorologist Fred Hunter is headed to the Gulf Coast today to cover Tropical Storm Karen. He will have live updates as early as Friday morning.
Stay with Fox6 and MyFoxAL.com for more updates as the storm progresses.