Tropical Storm Karen forms in Gulf of Mexico

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A hurricane watch is in effect for parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast on Saturday after Tropical Storm Karen formed in the southeastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.

The hurricane watch covers the area from Grand Isle, La., east to Indian Pass, Fla. A tropical storm watch is in effect from west of Grand Isle to Morgan City, La., an area that includes New Orleans.

Karen formed between Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and is producing winds of 60 mph.

The storm is moving north-northwest up the Mexican coast and has a “near 100 percent” chance of becoming a hurricane or cyclone in the next two days, the hurricane center said.

The information that NOAA.gov provides is necessary to protect life and property and the website will be updated and maintained during the federal government shutdown, the hurricane center said.

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According to the National Weather Service, projected paths for Karen indicate that it could make landfall early Saturday morning along the eastern half of the Gulf Coast.

Coast Guard units across the projected path have made preparations to maintain response after storm passage. Unit personnel are not being evacuated and standard duty crews will be maintained, although rescue response may be limited during the height of the storm.

The Coast Guard also reminds mariners that drawbridges along the coast could deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek early passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

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