For the first time in 61 years, there is a hurricane brewing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in January. Subtropical storm Alex formed near the Azores on Wednesday and was rapidly upgraded to hurricane status. The National Hurricane Center has issued a series of advisories for the islands, situated in the middle of the Atlantic, and storm-force winds are expected to hit land as soon as this evening. Heavy rain and continued high winds may begin tomorrow and last through the weekend as the storm travels north across the Azores.
As far as weather records go, Alex has scored a slew of historic designations. The storm formed on Wednesday of this week, making it the first hurricane to form in the Atlantic in the month of January in 78 years. Alex is also the first Atlantic hurricane to exist during the month of January. The last was Hurricane Alice, which formed in December 1954 and grew to hurricane strength on January 2, 1955. If those tidbits aren’t enough to illustrate how rare an occurrence this is, try this one on for size: Alex is one of the earliest tropical storm systems to form in the area for as long as such records have been kept, which stretch back 165 years.
Increasing global temperatures, combined with this year’s strong El Niño, are a perfect recipe for weather anomalies, so Alex probably isn’t the only record-breaking storm we’ll see this year. Already, we’ve seen torrential rains, unseasonal tornadoes, and intense flooding in many areas around the globe. Meanwhile, severe drought endangers people and environments in other regions. What comes next is anyone’s guess.
Alex’s projected path won’t impact the United States, according to Accuweather, but it may wreak some havoc on the Azores in the coming days.