(Reuters) - A strong tropical wave and associated broad area of low pressure moving westward across the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rice still has a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.

Although the system still lacks a well-defined circulation, it could develop into a tropical storm or depression over the next couple of days, the Miami-based weather forecaster said.

"Regardless of development, squalls to tropical storm force can be expected over portions of the northern Leeward Islands and the northern U.S. and British Virgin Islands this afternoon," the NHC said.

However, it is too early to speculate on how the low pressure system could impact the northwestern Bahamas, Florida or beyond, the agency said in its latest advisory.

(Reporting by Apeksha Nair and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alan Crosby)