October 13, 2013 - Tropical Storm Karen (12L) in the Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Karen (12L) in the Gulf of Mexico

In early October, 2013 the eleventh named tropical storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season threatened the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Terra captured this true-color image of weakening Tropical Storm Karen stalled in the Gulf of Mexico on October 5, 2013. At the time this image was captured, the storm had no discernible eye, and loosely banded storm clouds were heaviest in the southeast quadrant, with little activity to the north and northwest. The irregular shape of the storm suggested it was meeting considerable wind shear.

On that same day the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported Karen carried sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km/h) and circulated about 130 miles south-southwest of the port of Morgan City, Louisiana. While those winds speeds allowed the classification of “tropical storm”, Karen was barely holding onto that category – just one mile per hour weaker and the storm would be classified as a “tropical depression”.

Tropical Storm Karen became a tropical depression by 0300 UTC on October 6 ((11:00 p.m.EDT October 5) and only remnants remained of the storm by 1500 UTC (11:00 p.m.)on that same day. The system brought heavy rainfall to Louisiana and blew northwards over the next few days, but no significant damage was reported.

While Karen never became a hurricane, and never made landfall, the storm track and initial rapid intensification caused warnings to be issued along the coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico, and impacted oil production, although briefly. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement reported that about 48 percent of the Gulf’s natural gas production and oil output was closed as the storm passed. A total of 271 platforms and 20 rigs were evacuated, which produce over 866,000 barrels of oil and 1.8 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 10/5/2013
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC