Karen maintains tropical storm strength, slowly moves north

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Tropical Storm Karen continues to barely hang on to tropical storm strength has once again started to slowly make its way toward the Louisiana coast.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Karen's maximum sustained winds were still near 40 mph and it was moving north at 2 mph at the 4 p.m. advisory. It was located at 28.1 North and 91.7 West, or about 115 miles south of Morgan City.

Despite the storm's weakening, officials all along the northern Gulf Coast still urged vigilance, as heavy rains and high winds remained a possibility.

Forecasters said Karen has been nearly stationary for the past couple of hours, but it is expected to resume its trek to the north later in the afternoon. A turn toward the northeast is expected by Saturday night. This is in response to an approaching cold front from the northwest. You can track Tropical Storm Karen and get other tropical weather related information using the WAFB Tracking Center.

Dry air infiltration and moderate wind shear helped to push the storms associated with the system farther from the center of circulation Friday evening and it has not been able to reorganize or strengthen any further. Karen is expected to make a turn to the northeast sometime later in the day as it approaches the Louisiana coast. Baton Rouge is not expected to feel any significant impact from the storm. Click here for more stories about the storm

Tropical Storm Karen is still projected to make a possible landfall along the extreme southeast Louisiana coast late Saturday night into early Sunday. The storm is expected to make a second landfall along the central Gulf Coast and then dissipate.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell issued a statement reminding citizens and businesses that Louisiana price gouging laws are in effect upon the state of emergency declaration by Gov. Bobby Jindal in anticipation of Tropical Storm Karen. Click here for more

In a sign that concerns in Louisiana are easing over Tropical Storm Karen, officials in Plaquemines Parish downgraded an evacuation order from mandatory to voluntary. The change took effect at noon Saturday. Click here for more

Grand Isle called for a mandatory evacuation Friday morning. A mandatory evacuation was called for Lafourche Parish south of the Leon Theriot Floodgates in Golden Meadow, including Port Fourchon. Terrebonne Parish issued a voluntary evacuation for lower areas of the parish which are more likely to be affected by the potential storm.

As a precautionary measure, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez declared a State of Emergency Friday because of the approach of Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf of Mexico. He said sandbags have been filled and stockpiled, and points of distribution will be advertised through the local media if the need arises. Click here for more

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom also declared a state of emergency Friday morning. He said sandbag locations have been positioned throughout the parish, but residents are limited to 10 bags per person. He added bags are on site, but please remember to bring a shovel and do not take additional empty bags. Click here for locations

St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr. has declared a state of emergency as the Emergency Operations Center continues to monitor and respond to Tropical Storm Karen as she nears the coast. Based on the forecast, there are currently no plans to open an emergency shelter within St. Charles Parish. Click here for more information and updated announcements

Other parishes that made state of emergency declarations include: Assumption, Lafourche, Orleans, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa.

President Barack Obama recalled some furloughed FEMA workers to make sure resources are available for those who will be affected by the late-season storm. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared states of emergency for areas that could feel the impact of Karen. Click here for more on this story

Baton Rouge Airport officials say flights in and out of Baton Rouge are scheduled to operate as usual this weekend.  Click here for more

The tropical storm warning has been discontinued west of Grand Isle. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River. All tropical storm watches have been discontinued.

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