Tropical Storm Karen Weakens To Depression Status, Spares Gulf Residents

Tropical Storm Karen
An oil and gas drilling platform stands offshore as waves churned from Tropical Storm Karen come ashore in Dauphin Island, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Reuters

Tropical Storm Karen, once thought to be a potential major threat to the Gulf Coast of the United States, appears to have mostly spared the storm-weary residents, as it was downgraded to depression status Saturday night.

And the storm appeared to have weakened further overnight, as the National Hurricane Center reported at 10 a.m. EDT Sunday that the storm was still 85 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River with sustained winds of only 30 miles per hour. The center went on to report that there were "no coast watches or warnings in effect" in the region, which comes as a huge relief to people in its path.

The weather event was downgraded from tropical storm status to a depression late Saturday, and the National Hurricane Center in Miami stated Sunday that "satellite imagery indicates that the center of Karen is no longer well defined. As a result ... Karen is no longer a tropical cyclone."

Forecasters did say that there was still a threat of some coastal flooding in the northern Gulf Coast as one to three inches of rain were expected to hit Sunday and Monday, even though the storm was plodding along at only 13 miles per hour as of Sunday morning.

Still, emergency officials and storm watchers warned residents to remain aware of Karen and to monitor it for potential changes through Monday evening, according to the Associated Press, which added that the depression is expected to travel over or near the Florida Panhandle Monday. Port of New Orleans officials told the AP that they hoped vessel traffic would resume there on Sunday after having been stopped since Friday.

In a time of increasingly extreme weather, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, has so far been kind to the United States. A number of early tropical storms and predictions suggested a heavy season, but damages have been minimal so far.

Storms in the Southeastern states have been watched with heightened wariness ever since Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast and especially the city of New Orleans in 2005.

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