Extreme weather conditions are going to give a lot of people across the country trouble this weekend.
Although the federal government is shut down, the National Weather Service website is still putting out alerts and warnings. Here's a look at some of the major events that will affect Americans over the next few days:
The biggest system to watch is Karen, now churning in the Gulf of Mexico. While it's at tropical storm strength for the moment, the National Hurricane Center says it could get a little stronger before it makes landfall late Saturday or early Sunday. Current projections have it coming ashore between the central coast of Louisiana and the far western tip of the Florida Panhandle. A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to west of Destin, Florida, but that could be downgraded to a tropical storm watch later Friday.
The storm could bring up to 10 inches of rain to some areas, with three to six inches forecast for the Gulf Coast through Sunday night. Storm surges of 5 feet could flood low-lying areas from the mouth of the Mississippi to Mobile Bay. After the system comes ashore, it's expected to head northeast, bringing rain from southern Missouri through much of Alabama and Georgia on Sunday.
We officially entered autumn less than two weeks ago, but in parts of the Plains it looks more like the dead of winter. Blizzard warnings are up in Wyoming and the Dakotas, where a storm is expected to dump up to a foot-and-a-half of snow in some areas by early Saturday. Winter storm warnings are up in Colorado, Wyoming, and parts of the Dakotas.
Santa Ana winds
In California, the Santa Ana winds are kicking up and they're expected to keep blowing through early Saturday. Los Angeles and Ventura counties will be in the crosshairs, but the strongest winds will hit the mountains, where some gusts could reach up to 80 miles an hour. As if that wasn't bad enough, the high winds combined with low humidity will create conditions ripe for wildfires to develop and spread.
Federal officials say it's the highest fire threat the region has seen in years. Red-flag warnings are up in several counties in the states. It won't take long for the hot weather associated with the Santa Ana winds to abate, though. By Saturday night, cooler air is expected to move into the region, and the season's first frost advisory has been issued for late Saturday and early Sunday.