Tropical Storm Karen could near the Carolinas coast over the weekend, based on storm maps generated by the National Hurricane Center.
However, what happens after that is up in the air, with every possible option in the forecast, including chances the storm will stall off the mid-Atlantic states or even loop around, according to the center.
Either way, Karen is forecast to be near hurricane strength late in the week, with “maximum sustained winds near 70 mph,” according to the Miami Herald. Winds would need to be 74 mph for it to officially be a hurricane, according to the National Weather Service.
As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Karen was about 110 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, and forecasters were describing it as “disorganized” — the same term they applied to slow-moving Hurricane Dorian in its early stages.
The National Hurricane Center suspects Karen may first stall about 1,000 miles southeast of Charleston, then take “a wicked left turn to a westward track as a strong 65 mph tropical storm next week,” according to the South Carolina Climate Office.
Karen’s eye is expected to begin turning west toward the East Coast around 2 a.m. Friday, when the unpredictability sets in, experts say.
Karen’s center will “move over or near Puerto Rico” on Tuesday before sliding over the southwestern Atlantic. There, it could “stall or loop ... north of Puerto Rico on days 4 and 5 as a large ridge builds to the north of the cyclone,” officials said.
A tropical storm warning was issued early Monday for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are expected to get rain of 2 to 8 inches along with “flash flooding and mudslides” on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Karen’s winds were about 40 mph Monday morning, officials said. “Tropical Storm force-winds extended outward up to 105 mph,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
It’s believed Karen will go through a weakening period in the next day, but will eventually find conditions that will “allow for more significant intensification to occur,” the center said.
Another Tropical Storm, named Jerry, is expected to stay off the U.S. coast this week as it veers east back into the mid-Atlantic, according to the hurricane center.