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Storm clouds gather near Puerto Rico

A tropical wave moving over the Virgin Islands could become a tropical depression Thursday but probably won't threaten the oil rich Gulf of Mexico.
/ Source: Reuters

A tropical wave moving over the Virgin Islands could become a tropical depression Thursday but probably won't threaten the oil rich Gulf of Mexico, weather models and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. ET report.

Most weather models show the system will pass to the north side of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and eastern Cuba before turning north and crossing the Bahamas over the next five days without threatening the Florida coast.

An Air Force Reserve Reconnaissance aircraft is currently investigating the system to see if it has turned into a tropical depression.

Regardless of development, the NHC warned the system could bring heavy rains and gusty winds to the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola during the next day or two.

The Leeward Islands include the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Martin, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Antigua, Montserrat and Guadeloupe.

Energy and commodities markets have been watching the Virgin Islands system and another system in the Atlantic since August 11.

The Virgin Islands system is more interesting to the market since earlier in the week it looked like it might reach the Gulf of Mexico sometime next week. That seems less likely now since the weather models do not expect it to reach the Florida coast.

If either system strengthens into a tropical storm, with winds of 39 to 73 mph, the NHC will name it Fay.

Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

The NHC is also watching a broad area of low pressure located about 1,100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.

The system however remains disorganized and development, if any, will be slow to occur as the system continues moving westward about 10 to 15 mph.

The weather models are no longer tracking this system. On Wednesday, the models showed it would cross the 30th parallel north of the equator about 1,000 miles east of Bermuda and turn back toward the east over the next five days.

Energy traders are watching this system but are not very interested in it at this time. Once a weather system climbs north of the 30th parallel, energy traders say it will likely not threaten the Gulf of Mexico since most of the Gulf is south of the 30th parallel.