MIAMI -- A depression far out in the Atlantic Ocean was probably very near tropical storm strength Monday, and early forecasts put it on a track off the U.S. Atlantic seaboard rather than into the Gulf of Mexico, where BP is working to finally plug its blown-out oil well.
The National Hurricane Center said the depression, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph, was expected to strengthen in the next 48 hours and could be a tropical storm by Monday night or today.
Dennis Feltgen with the center said conditions over the next five days are not favorable for the depression to develop into a full-blown hurricane.
Feltgen said the forecast five-day track keeps the storm on the Atlantic side of the nation's coast but that it was unclear yet if and where it might come ashore.
"At this point, we don't see any direct impacts on the Gulf of Mexico," Feltgen said.
Tropical Storm Bonnie briefly interrupted work on BP's oil spill site last week, after the well was temporarily capped, and the oil company hopes to have a permanent plug in place before hurricane season enters its peak period Aug. 15.
The depression was located about 1,270 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and moving west-northwest at 16 mph.