Atlantic Tropical Storm Could Develop. Or Not.

A weather system in the Cape Verde Islands could develop into the first Atlantic tropical storm of the season. Maybe.

The National Hurricane Center has given the low-pressure system, which is just southwest of the island chain off the coast of Africa, a 30 percent to 50 percent chance of becoming tropical storm Ana.

But the potential for what could eventually turn into the season's first hurricane has been hindered by a powerful force: dry air. According to Mike Brennan, a meteorologist for the hurricane center, a pocket of dry air in the middle of the system is preventing it from becoming a full-fledged storm.

But this could become the first Atlantic hurricane of 2009 if the system is able to pick up moisture. "It would need warm sea surface temperatures, which there are plenty of in the Atlantic at this time of year," Brennan said. "That would start the process for this to turn into a tropical storm."

Another low-pressure system is approaching the Caribbean, but it lacks the potential of the system to the east. The hurricane center gives it less than a 30 percent chance of becoming a major storm.

This is another blow to the Atlantic hurricane season, which was initially expected to be one of the worst. The season typically runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.

Initially, 14 named storms and seven hurricanes were predicted. Now, the National Weather Service predicts a 70 percent chance of seven to 11 named storms, and three to six hurricanes.

Only 1 or 2 Hurricanes Predicted

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division of the National Weather Service, gives the season a 50 percent chance of being average, and a 40 percent chance of being below average. Hurricane center meteorologists only predict one or two major hurricanes this year.

At this point last year there were already five named storms in the Atlantic, according to Reuters.