NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Danny formed on Wednesday east of the Bahamas, packing winds near 45 miles per hour as of 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), with the storm expected to strengthen into the season’s second hurricane later in the week.

Tropical storms pack winds in excess of 39 mph and reach hurricane status when maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph.

Interests in the Bahamas and the Southeastern United States were cautioned to monitor the progress of the storm.

But several forecast tracks so far showed Danny remaining east of the United States and away from Gulf Coast oil and gas production.

Forecaster said the system could impact the East Coast late Friday into the weekend.

Danny was expected to follow a northwesterly track through Thursday, staying north and east of the Bahamas. The storm was then expected to turn north on Friday before curving to the northeast over the weekend, the forecaster said, on a similar path of last weekend’s first hurricane of the 2009 season, Bill.

Energy traders keep a close eye on storms that could enter the Gulf of Mexico and disrupt offshore U.S. oil and natural gas production or refinery operations along the coast.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could damage agriculture crops such as citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the coast to Texas.

The NHC will issue its next advisory at 5 p.m. EDT.