Tropical Storm Karen strengthens; hurricane watch in effect

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 03:35 PM.

PANAMA CITY — With Tropical Storm Karen inching toward the northen Gulf Coast and strengthening slightly, prompting warnings, forecasters are urging people to take measures to prepare.

At 10 a.m. CDT Thursday, Karen had sustained winds of 65 mph as it moved north-northwest at 12 mph,

The storm known as Karen is moving toward the northern Gulf Coast at about 13 miles per hour with wind speeds up to about 65 miles per hours, according  to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane watch is in effect for all of the Florida Panhandle west of Franklin County, including Panama City and Panama City Beach.

Alex Lamers, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, said it’s too early to pinpoint where the storm will make landfall; the most recent projections show the center coming ashore between Apalachicola and western Louisiana. Because of an approaching cold front, the farther west Karen tracks, the weaker it will be.

“Right now there is still some track uncertainty,” Lamers said.

The storm is forecast to strengthen into a minimal hurricane but weaken as it moves near shore. Even with wind speeds below hurricane strength — 74 mph — Karen still has the potential for significant local impact.

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