Tropical storm for the Carolinas? Not yet

Forecasters say it could be Friday before an area of stormy weather in theAtlantic Ocean forms a tropical depression or tropical storm.

And if relentless upper-level winds don't relax, the area of disturbedweather -- which computer models predict could threaten the Carolinas laterthis weekend -- might not form at all.

The National Hurricane Center and other meteorologists have been watchingthe area for two days, and a hurricane hunter plane was flown into thesystem Wednesday afternoon. The crew aboard the plane found the showers andstorms nearly had formed a tropical depression -- but not quite.

Overnight, the upper-level westerly winds, called shear, continued toprevent the system from organizing.

Lexion Avila of the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning that"conditions could become more conducive for a subtropical or tropicalcyclone to form in the next day or two."

Computer models continue to predict the system will organize, and theyforecast its track to approach North Carolina's Outer Banks. But forecasterscaution the public not to pay too much attention to those long-rangeforecasts, as they are prone to major changes.

Along the coast, National Weather Service forecasters at the Wilmingtonoffice say they will continue taking a wait-and-see attitude with thesystem. They are predicting a chance of showers and thunderstorms later thisweekend but say that forecast could change drastically.