V.I. Braces for Tropical Storm Karen

Newly formed Tropical Storm Karen is approaching the the U.S. VIrgin Islands along with Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands and a tropical storm watch has been issued for the islands, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

At 2 p.m. today, the center of Tropical Storm Karen was about 384 miles south-southeast of St. Croix, at 12.7 degrees North, 62.3 degrees west or approximately . Top winds are at 40 miles per hour with little change in intensification expected over the next two days. The tropical storm is tracking to the west-northwest at 13 miles per hour. Tropical storm force winds extend outward to 105 miles from the center. Karen could bring 2-4 inches of rainfall to the territory on Tuesday with isolated amounts to six inches in some locations.

A turn to the northwest is forecast to occur on Monday, followed by a turn to the north on Tuesday. On this projected track, Tropical Storm Karen will move across the Windward Islands Sunday and Sunday night, emerging over the southeastern Caribbean Sea on Monday.  On Tuesday, Karen is expected to approach the Virgin Islands as a tropical storm with top winds of 45 miles per hour. The forecast track places the center of Karen some 39 miles west of St. Thomas at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Tropical storm force winds – that is, winds of 39 miles per hour and greater – are forecast to begin affecting the Virgin Islands at 5 a.m. Tuesday continuing through 7 p.m., with the strongest sustained winds of 43 miles per hour affecting the territory beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was first posted to include information from the NHC’s 2 p.m. Sunday update.