A weakened Tropical Storm Karen, the first named system this year to threaten the U.S., still has its sights set on the Louisiana coast, but the National Hurricane Center has shifted the system's path a bit.
At 10 a.m. CDT, the storm was about 250 miles south southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving at about 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
"On this track, the storm will approach the Louisiana coast south of Morgan City by 7 p.m. Saturday and then turn sharply northeast to cut across the Mississippi River above its mouth overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, which would likely bring at least tropical storm conditions to much of the New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"A final landfall is expected later Sunday on the western side of Mobile Bay in Alabama, as a tropical storm."
A tropical storm watch is in effect for metropolitan New Orleans, including Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain.
The National Hurricane Center says Karen is expected to turn toward the north and decrease in forward speed by early Saturday. A turn toward the northeast is expected on Sunday, when the storm will again pick up speed.
Brian McNoldy at The Washington Post's Capitol Weather Gang blog says:
"Due to a combination of strong vertical wind shear and extremely dry air nearby, Karen went from an ominous and intensifying storm Thursday to a skeletal system gasping for moisture. That struggle continues today — the surface circulation is mostly exposed, and all of the thunderstorm activity is displaced to the east of the center. If anything is certain in hurricane forecasting, it's that a storm under these conditions will not rapidly intensify."