Energy market eyes Tropical Storm Ike in Atlantic

NEW YORK, Sept 2 Tue Sep 2, 2008 1:02pm BST

NEW YORK, Sept 2 (Reuters) - With Gustav inland near the Texas-Louisiana border, the energy market on Tuesday turned its attention back toward the Atlantic Ocean where Tropical Storm Ike was moving westward toward the Bahamas.

Ike was located about 1,235 miles east of the Leeward Islands, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) report.

The weather models forecast Ike will reach the Bahamas, Hispaniola or Cuba by Sunday.

Ike was packing winds of nearly 50 miles per hour. It was projected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 74 to 95 mph in about 36 hours and into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 96 to 110 mph within 96 hours, according to the NHC.

It was too soon to say whether Ike would reach the Gulf of Mexico.

Energy traders watch for storms that could enter the Gulf and threaten U.S. oil and gas production facilities.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could hit agriculture crops like citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

Since coming ashore in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Monday morning, Gustav weakened into a depression with winds below 39 mph. It was located about 135 miles northwest of Lafayette, Louisiana, at 5 a.m., according to the NHC.

OTHER STORMS

Meanwhile, Hurricane Hanna was moving little with heavy rainfall hitting the southeastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Haiti. None of the weather models projected Hanna would move into the Gulf of Mexico.

The NHC expected Hanna to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane before moving inland over Georgia or South Carolina later in the week.

The 10th Tropical Depression of the season formed over the far eastern Atlantic. Tropical Depression 10 was located about 170 miles south-southeast of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands.

The NHC forecast the depression would strengthen into a tropical storm within 12 hours and a Category 1 hurricane within 96 hours as it moves across the Central Atlantic. It will name the next tropical storm Josephine.

In addition, the NHC was watching two low pressure systems in the Atlantic. However, it gave each system less than a 20 percent chance of developing over the next 48 hours.

One low pressure system was located about 275 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, with the other 725 miles east of Bermuda.

The Leeward Islands include the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Martin, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Antigua, Montserrat and Guadeloupe. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)