Raleigh, N.C. — Tropical Storm Karen, which formed Thursday morning in the Gulf of Mexico, could bring rainfall to central North Carolina next week, according to WRAL meteorologists.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was about 1,100 miles south-southwest of Raleigh at 10 p.m. and was moving north-northwest at about 12 mph.
As it moves north into the Gulf from the area between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, Karen is expected to gain strength before making landfall along the Gulf Coast.
"This is a storm we're going to have to keep a close eye on for the next several days," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. "We're not thinking it will have a major impact on the Triangle aside from some rainfall, but it's really too early to know."
WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said some rain was likely by Sunday evening. "It's Monday and Tuesday that look more interesting," he said.
"What this tropical system could end up doing is bumping up our rainfall totals as the cold front moves through," Gardner said.
The National Weather Service issued tropical storm and hurricane watches for major portions of the Gulf Coast at about 9 a.m., warning residents from Louisiana to Florida about the storm's path and possible impact.
The hurricane watch was in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. A tropical storm watch also was in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast west of Grand Isle, including the metro New Orleans area and Lake Pontchartrain.
After the storm makes landfall along the Gulf Coast, it could combine with a cold front that should move across the eastern half of the country over the weekend.