No longer tropical, Karen heads towards Florida

All watches dropped for Florida Panhandle; rip current, rain still likely

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After days of lumbering toward the Gulf Coast, the storm system Karen dissipated late Sunday morning as storm preparations in the region were called off or scaled back as what's left of the system moves toward the Florida Panhandle.

All tropical storm warnings and watches were discontinued Saturday night after the system was downgraded from a weak tropical storm off the north-central Gulf Coast.  Officials say there continues to be a risk of rip currents and high tides along the Gulf Coast.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said Karen issued its last advisory on the system, placing the center about 85 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.  It had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, but no longer a closed circulation.

The system turned east and picked up speed -- 13 mph.

Channel 4 hurricane expert George Winterling said the storm will head over or just south of coastal Mississippi and Alabama reach the Florida Panhandle by Monday morning.  The center of a remnant low is forecast to be near Tallahassee about noon Monday.

There is still a possibility of localized coastal flooding along the northern Gulf coast and Karen could drop 1 to 3 inches -- mainly near and to the east of its path.

"Rain showers will begin Sunday in the Jacksonville area and continue through Monday," Winterling wrote Sunday morning on his Eye on the Storm blog. "An approaching cold front should end most of the rain by Tuesday morning. Rain totals in northeast Florida are forecast to be .50 to 1.00 inches. West of Baker County and much of Georgia may expect between one and 2 inches of rain through Monday night."

At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Floria's Emergency Operations Center cut back to Level 3 operations.

"As Tropical Storm Karen continues to disorganize, families should still use today as an opportunity to get ready," Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday. "Communities along the panhandle are expected to experience heavy rains, and storm surges are predicted for our coastal regions. "

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