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Low Pressure Over Southern Florida Could Spice Up Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season

It may not look like much, but a broad area of low pressure tracking over southern Florida Friday may have the potential to strengthen and move toward natural gas infrastructure along the Gulf Coast early next week, according to one forecaster.

"While the tropical circulation that is tracking over Florida looks [like] nothing more than some disorganized thunderstorms, we do expect it will become more impressive later in the day," meteorologists at Natgasweather.com said Friday. Most other forecasters were paying little attention to the low pressure.

"It is not impossible to think that there could be a named tropical system in the Gulf by Sunday or Monday. This very well could turn out to be nothing, such as the majority of the models indicate; however, there is at least some potential it could become a bit more ominous and provide an unexpected scare for the markets.”

The low pressure wasn't raising many red flags among other forecasters. AccuWeather.com forecasters said they expected the system to bring locally drenching and gusty thunderstorms to Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Friday afternoon said the low pressure was bringing "poorly organized" shower activity to an area just south of Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida.

“By tonight or early Saturday, the low is expected to be over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico where upper-level winds are forecast to become even less favorable for tropical cyclone formation,” NHC said. The chance of a tropical cyclone forming from the low pressure through Sunday was only 20%, and through Wednesday the chance was 40%, NHC said.

Since its June 1 start, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season has produced a total of five named storms, three of them reaching hurricane status. Hurricane Arthur, which skirted the Atlantic seaboard during the first week of July, cooled some eastern population centers and capped demand for natural gas over the Independence Day weekend (see Daily GPI, July 7). Hurricane Bertha formed east of the southern Lesser Antilles in the closing hours of July and had little effect on U.S. energy interests or natural gas prices before dissipating about 500 miles south of Halifax, NS, Aug. 6. Hurricane Cristobal threatened Bermuda but had little impact on the U.S. East Coast (see Daily GPI, Aug. 26a). And earlier this month, Tropical Depression Dolly formed in the Bay of Campeche, but dissipated after moving over Mexico just two days later. moved inland over Mexico and winds were down to 35 mph.

Meteorologists on Friday were keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Edouard, which was located about 1,315 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Edouard was expected to reach hurricane strength by early Monday but isn't likely to threaten the U.S. coastline.

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