Tropical storm Ana forms over Atlantic, moves west

| August 15, 2009

MIAMI (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Ana, the first named storm of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Saturday and was moving west toward the Leeward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.

With maximum sustained winds near 40 miles per hour, Ana was expected to strengthen slowly and turn toward the west-northwest, which could bring its center near the Leeward Islands on Monday.

It could threaten Puerto Rico by Tuesday and subsequently head toward the Bahamas and Florida. But the NHC said its initial projections did not show it developing into a full-blown hurricane in the next 120 hours, although this possibility could not be ruled out.

Tropical storms become hurricanes when their top sustained winds reach 74 mph.

At 1100 EDT, Ana was located about 920 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

The NHC said another tropical depression also moving westward from the Cape Verde Islands was expected to become a tropical storm later on Saturday or on Sunday. Projections showed this Tropical Depression Three could become a hurricane in the next 72-96 hours, the center said.

It was currently located about 740 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.

The 2009 hurricane season, which runs from June through November, has gotten off to a late start. By this time last year, there had already been five named storms in the Atlantic basin.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted this year's Atlantic hurricane season will see normal to below-normal activity, with seven to 11 tropical storms and three to six hurricanes.

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.

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

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