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Thursday July 30th, 2015 2:06AM

Hurricane watch up along Gulf Coast; storm could impact N. Ga.

By The Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) -- Tropical Storm Karen has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and a hurricane watch is in effect along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida - and the storm could impact North Georgia by Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the late-season storm formed Thursday morning. It was about 500 miles (805 km) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and already had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

The hurricane watch was in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass in the Florida Panhandle. A tropical storm watch also was in effect for parts of the Louisiana coast west of Grand Isle, including the metro New Orleans area and Lake Pontchartrain.

Karen was moving north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph). It could be at or near hurricane strength by Friday and is expected to make landfall Saturday or Sunday.

NORTH GEORGIA

All of the computer models outlining the potential paths of the storm system after it makes landfall show it moving across north Georgia on Sunday.

At least one has it crossing the southern fringe of metro Atlanta and then following a path that takes it straight into northeast Georgia and on up the Eastern Seaboard into the Maryland/Delaware area.

The forecast for Gainesville for Sunday is already calling for a 60 percent chance of rain, heavy at times, with winds gusting to around 25 miles-an-hour. Much of the rest of the state is expected to experience heavy rains and gusty winds Sunday, as well. The rain and wind are forecast to diminish Monday.

(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)

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