By Benjamin Flowers
A hurricane formed in the Atlantic Ocean this week has made history as only the fourth storm to do so in 160 years.
Hurricane Alex, the first named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Wednesday, originating from a non-tropical low pressure system.
Alex is not just the first named storm of 2016, but it’s also the first named storm to form in the Atlantic in January since 1978, the first January-born hurricane since 1938, and the fourth known storm to arrive in that month since records began in 1851.
Alex formed in the afternoon south-southwest of the Azores, a group of islands located 800-900 miles west of Portugal. It is expected to make landfall in Greenland.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in the United States said Alex’s maximum sustained winds were 85 miles per hour. The NHC said that the storm could produce strong winds and heavy rains over the Azores.
“Alex could retain its subtropical characteristics till as late as Friday, when it will be shooting northward toward Greenland en route to being absorbed in a high-latitude storm,” said Dr. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at Weather Underground.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, but on rare occasions, storms have have formed ahead of time. The NHC said January storms first started in 1851.
Alex began as a non-tropical low pressure system located off the US southeast coast, which passed Bermuda on January 8th. In the following days it moved east and southeast through the Atlantic.
The NHC said that this week Alex took on more characteristics of a subtropical storm – a storm that displays features of both tropical and non-tropical systems, including a broad wind field, no cold or warm fronts, and generally low-topped thunderstorms displaced from the center of the system.