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Tropical Storm Karen could near hurricane status at landfall

Tropical Storm Karen is forecast to make landfall on the coasts of Louisiana or Mississippi on Saturday, possibly as a weak hurricane, or at least close to that strength.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph as of Friday morning, moving within 300 miles of the mouth of the Mississippi River. To reach hurricane status, sustained winds must be at least 74 mph.

Karen is not forecast to strengthen significantly Friday, but could on Saturday, according to National Hurricane Center forecasts. The center's forecast discussion call the storm's intensity forecast "problematic" with various factors, including how the storm could interact with another weather system and with winds high in the atmosphere, difficult to predict.

The center's forecast cone still calls for the storm to bring rain to Maryland early next week. The latest outlook predicts the storm reaching Central Virginia early Tuesday as a post-tropical depression.

Karen is likely to be the second named storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year, after Tropical Storm Andrea. If it makes landfall as a hurricane, it will be the first since Hurricane Isaac last August (or Hurricane Sandy last October, if you don't count the fact that it was no longer technically a hurricane when it made landfall, though it packed hurricane-force winds).

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