Gulf coast on hurricane alert as US braces for tropical storm Karen

Landfall is expected late Saturday or early Sunday morning

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The Independent US

Parts of the Gulf Coast are on hurricane alert as Tropical Storm Karen continues towards the coastline.

Communities across southeast Louisiana to Florida are still making preparations for the storm, after being put on hurricane watch.

Grand Isle mayor David Camardelle, whose Louisiana community is often the first to order an evacuation in the face of a tropical weather system, said the town is making sure it's ready to face the storm.

"Hopefully, this one is just a little rain event," said Camardelle. "We don't need a big storm coming at us this late in the season."

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Karen was about 250 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River this morning, moving north-northwest at 10 mph. It had maximum winds of 50mph.

A storm technically becomes a hurricane once its winds reach 74mph, and the National Hurricane Center said today: "It has become less likely that Karen will reach hurricane strength."

Karen would be the second named storm to hit the US this year, after Tropical Storm Andrea hit Florida in June.