August 26, 2009 / 12:06 PM / 9 years ago

NHC says tropical storm may form later Wednesday

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center said an area of disturbed weather centered about 470 miles east of Nassau in the Bahamas could become the season’s latest tropical depression, or more likely, tropical storm, later Wednesday.

But forecast tracks so far show the system remaining to the east of the United States and away from Gulf Coast oil and gas production.

The NHC said the system said a high chance — greater than 50 percent — of tropical cyclone formation and interests in the Bahamas should monitor the progress of it as it moved west-northwest during the next 48 hours.

Forecaster AccuWeather.com said the system, which if named would become Danny, was expected to move north of the Bahamas on Wednesday and could impact the U.S. East Coast by the weekend, on a similar path of last weekend’s first hurricane of the 2009 season, Bill.

AccuWeather said wind shear that has been preventing development of the tropical wave has begun to ease and should remain weaker for the next several days, allowing the wave to become better organized while it crosses over very warm water.

Energy traders keep a close eye on storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and disrupt offshore U.S. oil and natural gas production or refinery operations along the coast.

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

Reporting by Eileen Moustakis; editing by Jim Marshall

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