Newly formed Tropical Storm Karen, which could reach hurricane strength by Friday, is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast sometime over the weekend.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the late-season storm formed Thursday morning about 485 miles south of the Mississippi Delta, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. It was moving north-northwest at 12 mph, but was expected to speed up.
Forecasters say it will make landfall in the U.S. either Saturday or Sunday.
Reuters reports that oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were being evacuated Wednesday.
"Hurricane watches are now in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. However, these watches do not include metropolitan New Orleans.
"Tropical storm watches, however, do include metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, as well as the Gulf Coast from west of Grand Isle to Morgan City, La."