EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA - Tropical Storm Karen continues to track through the Gulf of Mexico today on its way to make landfall near Mobile, Alabama late Saturday or early Sunday. Karen has been struggling to survive as southwesterly wind shear is pushing the deeper thunderstorms off to the east of the circulation center. As a result, while it will be a strong Tropical Storm, it will likely not become a hurricane before landfall.
By later Sunday the remnants of Karen will be moving northeast through the southeastern U.S. What is left of the storm center will track up the spine of the Appalachian Mountains and be near Charlotte on Monday on its way northeast as it gets entrained with the cold front sweeping eastward from a strong early season storm that will pound the Northern Plains going into this weekend.
Karen will bring scattered storms to Eastern Carolina on Monday and Tuesday with the heaviest rains remaining west of the I-95 corridor.
Tropical Storm Karen formed near the Yucatan Peninsula over the northwestern Caribbean Sea early this morning and while it is distant from us now, its remnants could have an impact on our weather by early next week.
Our weather pattern begins to change early next week as the big high pressure system that has been keeping us warm, dry and sunny moves offshore as a strong cold front approaches North Carolina from the west. The front is strong but is going to be moving slowly and will be a big player in where the rainfall and thunderstorms associated with Tropical Storm Karen end up.
Tropical Storm Karen could briefly become Hurricane Karen before weakening and making landfall along the north central Gulf of Mexico coastline late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. My thinking is landfall somewhere close to Mobile, Alabama, between 10pm Saturday night and 2am Sunday morning. Karen's remnants will then travel north across eastern Alabama and north central Georgia and should be located near Charlotte, North Carolina, around 7am Monday morning as a tropical depression. Those remnants will then become absorbed into the cold front on Monday. There still remains some uncertainty of the speed of and track of the remnant low. Rain from these systems should begin to overspread the deep inland (along I-95) parts of eastern North Carolina by Sunday night and especially on Monday resulting in better opportunities for rain and thunderstorms to occur early next week especially over the deep inland areas. It the remnant tracks across central North Carolina there could also be a risk for a few tornadoes on Monday. The front is then forecast to dissipate over our area on Tuesday into Wednesday with a lingering chance for rain or thunderstorms into Tuesday night.