North America

U.S. Karen weakens, spares Gulf Coast

Hurricane Karen never showed up, and a weakened tropical storm in its place instead created mostly minor disruptions over the weekend along the Gulf Coast.
After days of marching toward the shore, the storm system disintegrated late Sunday morning, bringing an end to coastal watches and warnings across the southern parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
In Mobile, Ala., the 19th annual BayFest Music Festival canceled appearances on smaller stages but main-stage artists, including Kellie Pickler and the Isley Brothers, performed as scheduled. A website for Cruisin' the Coast, a weeklong gathering along Mississippi's Highway 90 for enthusiasts of antique, classic and hot rod vehicles, promised "only minor adjustments by mother nature" to its kickoff Sunday.
Karen developed as a strong tropical storm in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late last week but lost momentum when it ran into strong winds as it traveled northward, said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.
"It started so strong we felt it would become a hurricane at some point fairly quickly," Edwards said. "But hurricanes don't organize well when they're interacting with a lot of winds."
This year, only one tropical storm has hit the USA: In early June, Andrea hit the northwest coast of Florida.
Although 11 named storms have formed in the Atlantic Ocean this year, only two of them have been hurricanes, neither of which affected the USA. This is below the average of six and also far below most preseason hurricane predictions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that seven to 11 hurricanes would form, while forecasters from Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project projected nine.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that the remnants of Karen were moving eastward off the coast about 13 mph. Forecasters expected what remains of Karen – a tropical storm, then a depression – to continue moving east over the next day to two days. Maximum sustained winds remained near 30 mph, with higher gusts, and forecasters said localized coastal flooding could still occur along portions of the coast. Rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches were expected.
Across the Gulf Coast :
• In Louisiana, wind and waves brought tar balls to the beach at Grand Isle, which Mayor David Camardelle Jr. said are remnants of the 2010 Gulf oil spill. "Any time low pressure stirs up the Gulf it comes back and stirs up the oil on the beach," he said. "Tar balls have been spread all over. We always expected it."
• In Alabama, the Grand Festival of Arts in Fairhope was canceled, and a book festival and a bird and conservation expo were moved indoors or scaled back.
• In Florida, swimmers at Pensacola Beach were advised Sunday to stay out of the Gulf because of a high risk of dangerous rip currents. On Saturday, red flags signaling dangerous surf flew from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach, but that didn't stop Jonathan Beck and Colleen Krozcewski from tying the knot . "We were going to get married rain or shine," said Beck, of Sturbridge, Mass .
• In Mississippi, Louise and William Barrett of Perkinston removed their five rockers from the front porch and stocked up on gasoline, as they do when hurricanes are predicted. On Sunday they put the rockers back and went about business as usual. "We went to church, we had lunch, and we watched a ball game," Louise Barrett said.
Contributing: The Associated Press, Pensacola News Journal

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