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Tropical Storm May Form in Atlantic Within Two Days, U.S. Says

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July 7 (Bloomberg) -- A tropical storm may develop in the mid-Atlantic early this week, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A collection of severe thunderstorms and low pressure about 1,050 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands has a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm or depression in the next two days, according to weather outlook from the center.

“Satellite imagery indicates that shower and thunderstorm activity has increased in organization since this afternoon,” according to the forecast by Todd Kimberlain and Daniel Brown, hurricane specialists at the center. “If development occurs, tropical storm warnings would likely be issued for portions of the Lesser Antilles.”

If its winds reach 39 miles per hour, it would be named Tropical Storm Chantal and become the third named system of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. These powerful storms are watched carefully because they can disrupt oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and threaten orange crops in Florida, the second largest producer behind Brazil.

In addition, 4.2 million homes with an estimated $1.1 trillion in property exposure are within storm-surge risk zones along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts, according to CoreLogic Inc. in Irvine, California, a property analysis firm.

A U.S. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance plane, known as a “Hurricane Hunter,” is scheduled to fly into the storm on July 8, according to the hurricane center. The plane will collect a host of data, including wind speeds and barometric pressure, that can tell forecasters if it has organized into a tropical storm.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net