Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami dropped a hurricane watch from the mouth of the Pearl River to Destin, Fla., replacing it with a tropical storm watch. Hurricane watches posted elsewhere were also discontinued, the center said.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Morgan City, La., to the mouth of the Pearl River, and a tropical storm watch was posted for metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Maurepas, Lake Ponchartrain in Louisiana and from the mouth of the Pearl River to Indian Pass, Fla.
Karen, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, was about 205 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 230 miles south of Morgan City, La., moving north-northwest at 7 mph, the NHC said in its 10 p.m. CDT advisory.
Karen was forecast to turn north with a decrease in forward speed Saturday before gradually turning to the northeast and gaining forward speed Sunday. On its forecast track, the center is expected to be near the coast within the tropical storm warning area Saturday night.
Tropical storm conditions may occur in portions of the warning area Saturday afternoon.
The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising water, forecasters said.
Karen was expected to produce 4-8 inches of rain over portions of the central and eastern Gulf Coast through Sunday. Isolated amounts of as much as 12 inches of rain were possible.
"To ensure that needs are met based on applicable legal requirements and consistent with its contingency plan, [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] is recalling certain currently furloughed employees necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property in preparation for the potential impacts of extreme weather, including Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf of Mexico and severe weather in the central United States," Carney said.
He said FEMA has activated its National Response Coordination Center in Washington and is "in close contact with local officials in potentially affected areas."