Hurricane Alex Forms in the Atlantic, Threatens Azores

Source: The Washington Post/Jason Samenow - January 15, 2016 in Environment, Featured

Hurricane Alex Forms in the Atlantic, Threatens Azores
Image: National Weather Service

Amazingly, in the dead of winter, a rare hurricane is swirling in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Alex, which was named a Subtropical Storm on Wednesday, has steadily strengthened over the past day and is making history as an extraordinarily rare January hurricane. The National Hurricane Center says Alex is the first Atlantic hurricane to form in January since 1938. (Hurricane Alice of 1955 first formed in late December, but lasted into January.)

The storm has peak winds of 85 mph, just about 5 mph shy of the 1938 January hurricane, the strongest on record for the month.

Positioned 490 miles south of the Azores, Alex is making a beeline toward the group of islands that sit about 900 miles west of Portugal. The Azores government has issued hurricane warnings for the most of the islands. Only 10 hurricanes on record have tracked within 200 miles of the Azores, all in August or September, notes The Weather Channel’s Jonathan Erdman.

“Alex is in a rare spot for September, much less January,” tweeted Eric Blake, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center. “It is only the 2nd hurricane on record to form north of 30N (latitude) east of 30W (longitude).”

The National Hurricane Center seemed stunned by Alex’s strength in its 10 a.m. discussion, writing: “Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane. A distinct eye is present, embedded within a fairly symmetric mass of deep convection.”

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