Atlantic Could See Hurricane Season’s First Named Storm Today: Ana

August 12, 2009

The Atlantic could get its first named storm of the hurricane season later Wednesday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The basin’s second tropical depression is remaining just below tropical storm strength, the NHC said in its latest report Wednesday morning.

Most weather models forecast the depression will move west-northwest to just north of the Virgin Islands during the next five days toward the Bahamas, the U.S. East Coast and possibly the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

Energy traders said it was too soon to say where the system might make landfall, if at all.

The center of the depression was located about 630 miles (1,015 km) west of the Cape Verde Islands, which are off the West Coast of Africa, the NHC said. The system was moving westward over the open ocean at nearly 13 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (56 km per hour).

The NHC expected the depression to strengthen into the first tropical storm of the Atlantic season with winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour within 12 hours. If the system does reach storm status, it would be named Ana.

The NHC however does not expect the system to strengthen much after becoming a tropical storm — at least not during the next several days. It should not become a hurricane during the next five days.

With the depression not expected to strengthen much, energy traders started to turn their attention to a tropical wave off the West Coast of Africa behind the depression that some say had the potential for significant development as it moves across the Atlantic during the next two weeks.

By this time last year, there were already five named storms in the Atlantic basin.

The NHC was watching three tropical waves in addition to the tropical depression – one over the southeastern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela, one over the Atlantic Ocean about 420 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and the one near the West Coast of Africa that traders are watching closely. All three systems have a small chance – less than 30 percent – of developing into tropical storms during the next 48 hours.

Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and threaten U.S. oil and natural gas platforms and refineries along the coast.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could hit agriculture crops such as citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the coast to Texas.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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