Upstate residents should cast a wary eye on the sky late this weekend as Tropical Storm Karen, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico, advances toward South Carolina with the threat of heavy rain and possible flooding, forecasters said.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Thursday the late-season storm was churning toward the Gulf Coast and could track into the Upstate. One track shows the storm, weakened but still a tropical depression, moving near Greenville late this weekend.
A tropical depression has wind speeds of less than 39 mph, but forecasters warned of potentially heavy rain.
The National Weather Service said the tropical storm’s remnants were forecast to merge with a cold front moving across the area, possibly producing flooding in some areas.
A National Hurricane Center forecast placed Karen’s remnants over the Upstate early Monday morning.
Rainfall totals are difficult to predict, given uncertainty about the storm’s strength and direction, said Bryan McAvoy, a Weather Service meteorologist in Greer.
Several inches of rain are possible, he said.
“Three inches is a good bet now,” McAvoy said. “Obviously, there could be more. Localized areas could see a lot more depending upon where the center goes.”
Derrec cq. Becker, a spokesman for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division in Columbia, said hurricane experts and forecasters have told state officials to expect up to three inches of rain.
“There’s the possibility it could come down very quickly,” Becker told The Greenville News.
Residents should listen for advisories, he said.
“Anytime that we have a tropical storm like this, we go through our processes and our procedures of keeping everybody informed,” Becker said.
Data from a hurricane hunter aircraft showed Karen’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some additional strengthening was possible, and Karen could be at or near hurricane strength today. Friday
A hurricane watch was posted along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. A tropical storm watch was in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast west of Grand Isle, including metro New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
While recent weeks have been relatively dry, the Greenville-Spartanburg area has had 56.85 inches of precipitation this year, or 20.67 inches above normal, according to the Weather Service.
The forecast for rain is “much like we’ve seen all summer long,” Becker said.
“We’ve had a lot of rain this summer, and we’ll continue to get more, it looks like,” he said.