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Weakened storm Karen nears the Gulf Coast

A beachgoer takes an early morning walk as storm clouds from a weakening Tropical Depression Karen approach Orange Beach, Alabama, on Oct. 6.Steve Nesius / Reuters
<p>Tropical Storm Karen weakened to a depression late Saturday, discontinuing previous warnings and worries that it would reach hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center.</p> <p>"All tropical storm warnings have been discontinued," the center said in an advisory. "There are no coastal tropical storm warnings or watches in effect." </p> <p>The storm's center is expected to move near or over portions of extreme southeastern Louisiana on Sunday and move just south of the Gulf Coast from Alabama to the Florida panhandle Sunday night and Monday, according to the NHC.</p> <p>Karen's top sustained winds dropped to 35 mph on Saturday night. The storm had been forecast to become a hurricane, and authorities had issued mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying areas south of New Orleans on Friday. </p> <p>In anticipation of the storm, the White House said Thursday it would recall employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who have been placed on furlough because of the federal government shutdown.</p> <p>Nearly two-thirds of oil output in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was halted as Karen neared the Louisiana coast earlier this week.</p> <p>But strong winds blowing in from the west Gulf of Mexico blew over the top half of the storm, weakening its overall impact, Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist and spokesman for the hurricane center, said earlier Saturday.</p> <p>Karen is still expected to dump between 1 and 3 inches of rain over parts of the Gulf, according to the center.</p> <p>Reuters contributed to this report. </p>