By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and KEVIN McGILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tropical Storm Karen is poised to become the first named storm to hit the U.S. during what had been a relatively quiet hurricane season.
Karen is forecast to lash the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend as a weak hurricane or tropical storm. A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle, La., to west of Destin, Fla. A tropical storm warning was issued for the Louisiana coast from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River, including the New Orleans area.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says early Friday that Karen was about 320 miles (515 kilometers) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) with higher gusts.