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Tropical Storm Karen as forecast at 11 am Tuesday, Sept. 24. Bryan Brussee/Staff

Winds and heavy rain headed north toward the Virgin Islands on Monday but Tropical Storm Karen was downgraded into a tropical depression.

After the storm passes the islands it's predicted to do what other storms this season have done — sit in place or wobble for half the week before making its way to the Southeast coast next week.

A tropical depression is a weaker form of a tropical storm, with winds lighter than 39 mph.

A push of weather coming off the United States is forecast to turn Karen toward Florida. However, with computer model runs varying widely, the National Hurricane Center kept South Carolina in its range of possible landfall.

The range extended from Bermuda to south Florida.

Karen is the latest in what has become a series of storms that tend to lose steering winds near the Bahamas or Virgin Islands, leaving computer models to churn out conflicting runs and forecasters to puzzle out the tricky timing of climatic wind shifts.

Tropical Storm Jerry, which formed Wednesday off the Caribbean, is still out there, finally moving north from the islands toward Bermuda. Before that, Hurricane Humberto sat over Grand Bahama for a day, ripping the island apart with catastrophic winds and dropping flooding rains. 

Hurricane Wire is a pop-up newsletter during hurricane season that delivers anyone who lives on the East Coast all the information they need to know as storms brew in the Atlantic and beyond.


Center hurricane specialist Daniel Brown cautioned Monday that predictions of both the movement and power of Karen were "low confidence," or forecast from conflicting data.

"Karen is too disorganized to intensify much before it reaches Puerto Rico," said meteorologist Jeff Masters with the forecasting company Weather Underground, but that it could re-strengthen afterward.

"For now, it’s enough to know that we may need to keep an eye on Karen well beyond this week," Masters said.

Reach Bo Petersen at @bopete on Twitter or 843-937-5744.