Tropical Depression could form in Atlantic: NHC

NEW YORK Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:44pm EDT

A tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean about 250 miles east of the Windward Islands is seen in a satellite image taken on August 31, 2007. REUTERS/NOAA/Handout

A tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean about 250 miles east of the Windward Islands is seen in a satellite image taken on August 31, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/NOAA/Handout

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A well-organized tropical wave in the Atlantic Ocean about 250 miles east of the Windward Islands could form into a tropical depression later on Friday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a morning update.

The NHC said it would send an Air Force hurricane hunter airplane to investigate the system early this afternoon to confirm if a depression had formed. It would be the sixth tropical depression of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained wind speed is 38 mph or less.

Should winds increase to 39 mph or greater the depression would become Tropical Storm Felix, the Atlantic season's sixth named storm.

The NHC said tropical storm-force winds could accompany the system as it passes through the Windward Islands late Friday.

Computer models show the system moving through the Caribbean Sea.

Energy traders were keeping a close eye on the wave, which could force short sellers to cover ahead of the U.S. Labor Day holiday weekend amid fears a stronger storm could develop in warmer Caribbean waters and possibly threaten U.S. oil and natural-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alex Moorhead, a refinery manager at the Hovensa refinery in St. Croix, told Reuters the system was not expected to be strong enough to cause any problems.

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