Hurricane season begins on June 1, but that isn't stopping the tropical Atlantic from heating up in May. A broad surface of low pressure in the Atlantic west of Florida is being given a 50 percent chance of forming into a depression or tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center.
While that is early, obviously, it's not uncommon. There have been 15 seasons in which named storms have formed prior to June 1, including the last four seasons. This, unfortunately, would seem to be the norm at least over the past five years.
Fortunately, it is unlikely the storm would make landfall in the United States, though it could bring some rainy and windy conditions to the Bahamas and Bermuda as it meanders off the East Coast before heading out to sea.
Before you freak out, early-season storms like this one are not predictors of things to come. We remain in a period of elevated storm activity, a cycle that runs between 20 and 40 years. We are roughly 30 years into that cycle. That is more likely the reason we could be headed for an active hurricane season, not this disturbance.
Still, it's a good reminder that hurricane season is just a couple weeks away and it's never too early to be prepared. In this case, you probably don't need to stock up on masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but, you know, it couldn't hurt.