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Tropical Storm Karen was a late season tropical cyclone of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season. The eleventh tropical storm of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season, Karen developed from a tropical wave in the Caribbean Sea on November 28. It tracked generally northward, and under favorable conditions, reached a peak intensity of 60 mph (95 km/h). After tracking northward, then eastward, Tropical Storm Karen headed south, weakening to a minimal tropical storm by December 1. While a minimal tropical storm, Karen had begun to decelerate, while nearing the coast of Honduras. Nearly stationary at this point, Karen curved sharply southeastward before weakening to a tropical depression, and being declared dissipated on December 4.

While passing south of Isle of Youth, Tropical Storm Karen produced heavy rainfall, moderate winds, and a tornado, but there were no reports of damage or fatalities exist.

Meteorological history

The origins of Tropical Storm Karen were from a distinctive tropical wave that emerged off the northwest coast of Africa on November 13. Unfavorable conditions existed in the Atlantic and eastern Caribbean Sea, and no immediate further development occurred. Tracking westward, conditions gradually became more favorable as a result of an upper-level anticyclone. Convection began to concentrate around the system as a result of favorable conditions, and a broad low-level circulation was beginning to develop.[1]

National Hurricane Center satellites and reconnaissance aircraft reported a center of circulation had developed within the system on November 28. Because of this, the system was therefore classified as Tropical Depression Fifteen. Tropical Depression Fifteen experienced a few fluctuations in forward speed after forming on November 28. The depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Karen as it was pass slowly to the south of Isle of Youth on November 30. After moving eastward of a high pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing Karen southward on November 30. Tropical Storm Karen reached peak intensity late on November 30 as a maximum sustained winds had reached 60 mph (95 km/h).[1]

Karen had begun a weakening trend shortly after midnight (UTC) on December 1. For about 42 hours, Tropical Storm Karen had maintained minimal tropical storm status as it headed southwestward. On December 2 and December 3, Tropical Storm Karen became completely stationary to the north of the Swan Islands. After becoming stationary, Tropical Storm Karen headed to the south-southeast. Early on December 4, an Air Force Reserve flight did not indicate a center of circulation. Tropical Storm Karen had dissipated into a low-level cloud swirl at that time. The remnants of Tropical Storm Karen were tracked for a few days by satellite over Nicaragua.[1]

Preparations and impact

Because Karen threatened many landmasses in the northwestern Caribbean, there were a few tropical storm watches and warnings issued. The first two tropical storm watches were issued simultaneously on November 29, with both being in effect for Cozumel, western Cuba, and the Isle of Youth. At Cozumel, the tropical storm watch was cancelled later that day. However, in western Cuba and the Isle of Youth, the tropical storm watch was upgraded to a tropical storm warning on November 30. The tropical storm warning was cancelled after Karen began moving southward on December 1. A final tropical storm watch was issued in Belize, it was cancelled about 24 hours thereafter.[2]

Tropical Storm Karen dropped heavy rainfall in the western portions of Cuba. Rainfall on the Isle of Youth totaled to over 15 in (381 mm). While rain on the western Cuban mainland was mostly between 10–15 in (244–381 mm),[1] although Tropical Storm Karen was expected to drop at least 20 in (508 mm) of rain.[3] The highest reported sustained wind were at 48 mph (77 km/h) and a gust of 60 mph (95 km/h), they were recorded in Genora, a small town on the Isle of Youth. In addition, there was also a tornado reported in the town of La Reforma on the Isle of Youth. Despite the rain and the tornado, no damage or fatalities were reported in association with Tropical Storm Karen.[1]

Tropical Storm Karen was a late season tropical cyclone as it had formed on November 28 and because the Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 of any given year. Though it did not form after November 30, Tropical Storm Karen survived until it dissipated on December 4.[1] Because Tropical Storm Karen formed on November 28, this caused the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season to become the sixth consecutive year in which a tropical cyclone formed or was active in the month of November, ending in 1989.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Avila, Lixion (December 22, 1989). "Tropical Storm Karen Preliminary Report". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  2. Avila, Lixion (December 22, 1989). "Tropical Storm Karen Preliminary Report". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  3. "Tropical storm drenches Cuba". The News Journal. December 1, 1989. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 

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