Tropical Storm Karen Building in Gulf of Mexico

It’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the northern Gulf so far this year – knock on wood – but right now a tropical storm is gaining strength and moving north off the Yucatan Peninsula and into the central part of the Gulf. The current forecasts show Karen strengthening to Category 1 (the weakest level of hurricane) sometime late Friday night as the storm center reaches the offshore oil platforms and pipelines, and making landfall along the Gulf coast near Mobile, Alabama early Sunday morning.  But of course, this could change, so get the latest info from the National Hurricane Center

Here are two maps showing the latest forecasts for the track of the center of the storm and the “cone of uncertainty” for that track; and the probability of tropical storm-force winds over the next 5 days.  We’ve overlain the offshore oil and gas infrastructure: platforms are shown as orange dots, seafloor pipelines as thin orange lines: 

Forecast track (black line) for center of tropical storm Karen. Pale blue envelope shows cone of uncertainty for the centerline.  Offshore oil and gas platforms are orange dots; seafloor pipelines are thin orange lines.  Forecast data from NOAA/NWS/NHC.
Forecast showing probability of tropical storm-force winds occurring over the next 120 hours. Offshore oil and gas platforms are orange dots; seafloor pipelines are thin orange lines.  Forecast data from NOAA/NWS/NHC.

We’re hoping, as always, for minimal damage and no injuries as Karen makes her way through. And that we won’t see much pollution from storm damage to offshore and coastal oil and petrochemical facilities, as we did after Isaac, Ike, Katrina and Rita.  

Those were all much stronger storms than a Category 1 hurricane, so we’re hopeful Karen will leave no such damage in her wake.