Tropical Storm Karen, which was headed north into open water Wednesday, is expected to perform a loop de loop, cross back over its own track and swing west toward the Bahamas and Florida.
The storm, which soaked Puerto Rico, was about 155 miles north of the island Wednesday morning, sailing in the general direction of Bermuda at about 14 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. But long before it gets to Bermuda, it is expected to curl east and complete a clockwise loop that puts it on a path toward the Bahamas, where a number of islands were devastated by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month.
Forecasters said that residents of Florida, which was largely spared by that hurricane, should be keeping an eye on this storm.
There was considerable uncertainty surrounding the storm’s future. Some models suggested Karen could strengthen and develop into a hurricane by early next week, while others say it could simply sputter and dissipate. Even if the storm does plow westward, its winds are not expected to approach the Bahamas until Sunday evening at the earliest, according to the National Hurricane Center.
At least 51 people died in the Bahamas this month when Dorian, a Category 5 storm, leveled Great Abaco Island and submerged much of Grand Bahama.
The predicted looping track of Tropical Storm Karen is not unheard of, according to Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He said it can occur when low-pressure troughs stop pushing a storm north, leaving it to sit relatively still until a high-pressure ridge catches it and begins moving west.
Karen could also weaken significantly as it dawdles over cooler water, Blake said, with the result that it could be days before forecasters are able to safely predict if, when or where Karen will make landfall again.
“We’re going to have to wait and see,” Blake said, adding that weaker storms are more difficult to predict than powerful storms. “The best advice is to sit and watch it,” he said.