A tropical depression could develop into Tropical Storm Ana as early as today, which would be the first named Atlantic storm of 2009.
What's now labeled as Tropical Depression TWO by the National Hurricane Center is moving west at about 13 mph with 35 mph winds and even higher gusts, according to an advisory posted by the center at 11 a.m. ET. The depression has moved away from Africa and sits in the mid-Atlantic, directly between continents.
The hurricane center's sixth and latest advisory on the storm states that the system has remained just below tropical storm conditions, and is expected to continue moving west for the next 48 hours.
Three other low-potential, low-pressure systems are lingering in the Atlantic, two off the coast of South America and another new system forming near the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, but none have more than a 30 percent chance of developing into something larger.
The National Hurricane Center gave the low-pressure system, which was just southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, a 30 percent to 50 percent chance of becoming Tropical Storm Ana two days ago.
The potential for what will likely turn into the season's first hurricane was 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 could have prevented it from becoming a full-fledged storm.
But the depression has gained tremendous potential as it has been able to pick up the moisture the hurricane center said it would need to grow.
. "It would need warm sea surface temperatures, which there are plenty of in the Atlantic at this time of year," Brennan said Tuesday before the system had picked up. "That would start the process for this to turn into a tropical storm."
Although the first tropical storm may be named today, scientists have still predicted a lackluster season.
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.
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.
At this point last year there were already five named storms in the Atlantic, according to Reuters.