BRAITHWAITE, La. — Tropical depression Karen stalled off the Louisiana coast Saturday night as a weakened system that could still help generate rain in the Triangle Monday after combining with a cold front, WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane center in Miami say that all watches and warnings have now been canceled along the Gulf Coast.
As of 11 p.m. Saturday tropical depression Karen was centered about 940 miles west-southwest of Raleigh with maximum sustained winds at 35 miles per hour.
Karen began losing its punch after a busy day of preparations along the Gulf Coast for the storm, a late-arriving worry in what had been a slow hurricane season.
Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, noted that "there is still the potential for some locally heavy rainfall and for some storm surge in coastal areas, but the magnitudes of those hazards greatly reduced. We still could see 1 to 3 feet of coastal flooding due to storm surge in some spots."
The Triangle will see much less rain, Johnson said, but rain showers and thunderstorms could create a messy Monday. Parts of central North Carolina could see up to 1.5 inches of rain.
"We're going to have to wait and see how Karen interacts with the cold front that is dropping feet of snow in the Midwest," Johnson said. "We could see thunderstorms Monday and some of this could linger into Tuesday."
In low-lying Plaquemines Parish, La., officials changed an evacuation order from mandatory to voluntary Saturday afternoon. More than 80 evacuees from the area, at the state's southeastern tip, had taken refuge at a public shelter, which would remain open Saturday.
Officials from Louisiana to northwest Florida acknowledged that the storm was weakening and sent some emergency workers home, but urged residents to be cautious.
Karen was poised to be only the second named storm to make landfall in the U.S. during an unusually quiet hurricane season. The first was Tropical Storm Andrea, which hit Florida, in June. The season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.