News

Tropical Storm Karen heads toward U.S. Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Karen heads toward U.S. Gulf Coast

BRACING FOR THE STORM: Workers pump water from the parking lot of the Dadeland Plaza shopping center, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, after heavy rains in Pinecrest, Fla., a suburb of Miami. Preparations began Thursday along the central Gulf Coast as newly formed Tropical Storm Karen threatened to become the first named tropical system to menace the United States this year. Photo: Associated Press/AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) – The first cyclone to threaten the U.S. coast this year moved across the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and was forecast to sweep through offshore oil installations before hitting the mainland between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Some energy companies in the Gulf started shutting down production and evacuating workers from offshore platforms as Tropical Storm Karen approached a region that produces nearly a fifth of daily U.S. oil output.

Three days after much of the U.S. government was closed down over a budget standoff, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began recalling furloughed workers to help prepare for the storm.

Karen, the first storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season to take aim at the United States, had top winds of 65 mph and was centered about 340 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

It was moving north-northwest and was expected to strengthen to just below hurricane strength by late Friday, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

Coastal residents could start feeling its bluster by Friday night. On its current track the storm’s center was expected to cross the coastline near the Mississippi-Alabama border by late on Saturday.

A hurricane watch was issued for the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana, south of New Orleans, to Destin, Florida, alerting residents to expect hurricane conditions within 48 hours.

A tropical storm watch was in effect in Louisiana from west of Grand Isle to east of Morgan City. The watch area included metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. Tropical storms carry winds of 39 mph to 73 mph.

Heavy rains were forecast all along the Gulf Coast into northern Florida, the forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center forecasters were exempt from the U.S. government shutdown because their work is vital to protecting life and property. Their parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, advised that some weather satellite images available to the public on its website “may not be up to date” because of the shutdown.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Older, wiser Schwarzenegger returns in ‘Terminator: Genisys’

15-overlay

Arnold Schwarzenegger may be older but that doesn't stop him from destroying his younger self, as the former governor returns to one of his most recognizable roles.

in Sports

Ex-Cowboys player C.J. Spillman charged with sexual assault

cjspillman

Spillman, who has played six seasons in the NFL, is suspected of sexual assaulting a woman at a Dallas hotel.

in National, World

U.S. runs hundreds of counter-terrorism investigations

Police tape cordons off the site of a car bomb attack in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, June 30, 2015. The explosion occurred near a military hospital in the Yemeni capital on Monday, causing dozens of casualties including civilians, security officials said. The Islamic State's Sanaa Division claimed responsibility on Twitter for detonating the parked car bomb, according to the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring service. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

U.S. authorities are pursuing hundreds of active counter-terrorism investigations embracing all 50 American states.

in Sports

Federer and Kvitova feast on Wimbledon starters

wimbledon

The King of Cool began his quest for an eighth title.

in Sports

Chicago ships Saad to Columbus

saad

The Blackhawks have traded forward Brandon Saad as part of a seven-player deal.