The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Wednesday that a tropical depression had formed in the Atlantic Ocean and was about 975 miles east of the Windward Islands in the southern Caribbean.
As of 11:00 a.m. EDT Tropical Depression 4 was moving to the west at a rate of 23 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 miles per hour (55 kph) and some strengthening is possible in the next 24 hours, the NHC said.
The National Hurricane Center forecast showed that Tropical Depression 4 was expected to attain hurricane strength within 48 hours and was on track to reach the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as a hurricane within 72 hours.
St. Lucia is about 300 miles southeast of the island of St. Croix, home to a giant 545,000 bpd Amerada Hess Corp. oil refinery, the biggest in the western hemisphere and a major supplier of gasoline to U.S. markets.
National Hurricane Center forecasters said there was a 13 percent probability that the center of the system would pass within 75 miles of St. Croix by 8:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday Aug. 18.