We’re officially a week into the Atlantic hurricane season, and there is reason to keep an eye on the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico for possible tropical development in the coming days.

The National Hurricane Center has highlighted a small area off the coast of Central America to monitor for potential tropical development. As of Tuesday, odds of cyclone formation remain low over the next five days.

The Hurricane Center notes that, regardless of whether a tropical system forms, heavy rainfall is still expected across northern Colombia and portions of Central America later this week and into the weekend. This is expected to occur as a broad atmospheric disturbance slowly drifts to the northwest.

Weather models do hint at the system drifting north into the Gulf of Mexico sometime next week, possibly organizing further once there. However, there is not much more that can be said with any degree of forecast confidence and certainty farther out in time, especially given that any system is in its very early stages.

Over time, the probability for development would be expected to increase, should the system survive the journey. This is partly due to weather models showing a more favorable environment in a few days. It is unknown whether that will continue to be the case.

Factors such as potentially disruptive wind shear, sea surface temperatures and the availability of moisture will become clearer, boosting forecast certainty.

So far in 2021, there has been one named storm in the Atlantic, Ana, which formed in May. The next name on the list would be Bill, should the system organize and strengthen enough to receive a name.

For early and mid-June, the western Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico are climatologically favored regions for tropical systems to develop, according to Hurricane Center climatology. Indeed it happened last year, when Tropical Storm Cristobal developed in the southern Gulf of Mexico in early June.

Additionally, the waters of the Pacific off the southwestern coast of Mexico are common zones for development this time of year. The Hurricane Center is monitoring two areas for potential tropical development in the Eastern Pacific, as well.

Thanks to improved resources, knowledge of weather patterns and numerical weather prediction model guidance, we can often get much more lead time than in the past.

In fact, on June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center issued its routine Global Tropical Hazards and Benefits outlook. It highlights the very same western Caribbean zone as a potential area of interest.

Even though forecast lead time and resources are improving, it does not mean we should spin into a frenzy of concern, ringing the alarm bells every time there is a tropical wave. Many of these waves never fully develop.

A steady monitoring of forecast trends, model guidance, and sound meteorological knowledge and judgment are essential to share information responsibly, and to know when to raise the red flag for action and heightened awareness.

Early season is a good time for a reminder to be aware of what you see on social media and ensure you are using trusted, reliable sources of weather information. We recommend following NOAA sources, including the National Hurricane Center on Twitter and local National Weather Service offices, as well as your local media.

Staying aware and informed about whatever disturbances are propagating through the tropical waters should be routine now that we are in hurricane season.

With attention on the tropics, it is also a great time — if you have not already — to put together a preparedness kit and plan of action.