(Updates with meteorologist’s comments on Erin’s future in third paragraph.)
Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Erin formed in the Atlantic southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, while a disturbance in the Caribbean became less organized, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Erin, which grew from a tropical depression today, had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour and was 115 miles west-southwest of the island of Brava in the Cape Verde chain as of 11 a.m. New York time. It’s moving west- northwest at 15 mph.
“Erin will continue to move west-northwest over the open waters of the Atlantic, with no impact to land for the foreseeable future,” said Andy Mussoline, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Super-long- range, there’s really no threat to the U.S. from Erin.”
The hurricane center is also tracking an area of disturbed weather crossing Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that has a 50 percent chance of developing into a storm in the next two days, down from 70 percent earlier.
Atlantic storms are followed closely by energy companies and commodities traders because they can disrupt natural gas and oil production and processing and destroy crops.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 6 percent of U.S. natural gas output, 23 percent of oil production and more than 45 percent of petroleum refining capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
The Bay of Campeche, at the southern end of the Gulf, is where Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, has most of its output. Florida is the second-largest producer of oranges after Brazil.
Erin is the fifth storm of the Atlantic season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. It is expected to strengthen slightly in the next two days before it encounters dry air farther to the west in the Atlantic, according to the center. There is a chance it will fall apart in about five days, still east of the Lesser Antilles.
“Its long-term health isn’t looking good at this point,” Mussoline said.
The Caribbean system is weakening as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula, but may strengthen once it reaches the southern Gulf of Mexico, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
“The key time to track it starts later tomorrow into this weekend, when it is expected to be in the Gulf,” Rogers said in a note to clients.
Some computer models show the system gaining enough strength to become a tropical storm before going ashore anywhere from Mexico to Louisiana, Rogers said. Two of the most reliable models, however, predict it won’t develop.
“The next 12 to 24 hours will be critical to see what we have left of this wave as it crosses the Yucatan tonight,” Mussoline said. “Whether it develops or not, the potential is there for heavy, flooding rainfall to affect the central Gulf Coast this weekend.”
Enbridge U.S.’s Manta Ray offshore natural gas gathering company evacuated non-essential personnel from two platforms off the coast of Louisiana yesterday. Marathon Oil Corp. is also evacuating non-essential workers from its Ewing Bank platform in the Gulf.
--With assistance from Christine Buurma and Adam Cataldo in New York. Editors: Charlotte Porter, Dan Stets