Thursday, December 12, 2013
By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Red flags warn swimmers to stay out of the Gulf of Mexico as a squall from Tropical Storm Karen moves offshore at Gulf Shores, Ala., today. The beaches remained open, but authorities said dangerous underwater rip currents made the waters too dangerous to enter.
The county had activated its Emergency Operations Center for the weekend, but decided to close it after getting the latest update on the storm's path. Hahn said he and other officials were relieved the storm wasn't more developed. But Hahn still urged residents to pay attention to weather updates and to be prepared for any emergency.
"Complacency is always a concern, but we aren't seeing that," he said, adding that most Panhandle residents take tropical weather seriously because of the large storms that have struck the region in the past.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Brett Carr said the Mississippi National Guard was demobilized today after coastal county officials said they "didn't see the need to keep them around."
Karen was poised to be only the second named storm to make landfall in the U.S. during an unusually quiet hurricane season. The first was Tropical Storm Andrea, which hit Florida, in June. The season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
As the storm churned the Gulf, some people along the coast couldn't resist the draw of beaches.
Ray and Lynn Walls of Shepherdsville, Ky., had a sunny beach to themselves today on the western tip of Dauphin Island, Ala. Waves pounded the seawall protecting nearby homes, and a locked gate blocked the entrance to a public beach that was closed because of Karen.
The trip had been planned for four people, but only two showed up, Ray Walls said. "The rest of them got a little scared of the storm."
In Biloxi, Miss., families played on the beach, joggers trotted along the waterfront and a steady stream of cars passed on the main beach front road.
Karen's weakening meant possible disappointment for Cheryl Greer, who drove through the night from Nicholasville, Ky., on a weekend adventure to Mississippi to visit her daughter and experience her first tropical storm.
"I'm looking forward to it. It would be my first one," she said. "I'm going to come to the beach and video it."
Associated Press reporters Stacey Plaisance in Braithwaite, La.; Melissa Nelson in Pensacola, Fla.; Tony Winton in Miami; Holbrook Mohr in Biloxi, Miss.; and Jay Reeves in Dauphin Island, Ala., contributed to this story.