The future intensity of Tropical Storm Karl became a little less clear Friday as the storm moved across the central Atlantic and into the hands of fickle wind shear.
In a Friday evening advisory, National Hurricane Center forecasters said there was still a chance the storm — nearly 1,800 miles east of the Leeward Islands — could become the Atlantic’s fifth hurricane of the season. But models have become more mixed, raising some uncertainty.
At 5 p.m. Karl was headed west at 14 mph with sustained winds of 45 mph. Tropical storm force winds extended 230 miles from Karl’s center.
Earlier in the day, conditions looked more likely to spin Karl into a hurricane by the middle of next week. But over the afternoon, computer models split on just how much wind shear would slow. The models also shifted the future path of the storm north on a path could sweep it into steering flows.
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Over the next day or two, wind shear should keep Karl from strengthening, forecasters said. After that, shear is forecast to fade, but how much the storm grows as it nears warmer waters “is a big question mark,” they said.
Karl arrives about halfway through the peak of the Atlantic season — when historically the basin churns out its fiercest storms — and on the heels of Hermine. South Florida largely escaped Hermine’s damaging rains and storm surge, which soaked the Panhandle, knocked out power in the state’s capital and left a messy, soggy swath in its wake after coming ashore Sept. 2 near the tiny town of St. Marks.