Hurricane Alex is the first January hurricane in 78 years

Friday 15th Jan 2016 by the Weather Club

Image: Hurricane Alex as a category 1 storm on January 14th 2016 (Source: Wiki)

This year has seen an unseasonably early start to the hurricane season, with subtropical storm Alex becoming a category 1 hurricane. Usually hurricane season runs from 1st June to 30th November, with a one-in-ten-year chance of a storm occurring out of this period, although these tend to occur in either May or December.

Alex formed on Wednesday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, and is now moving close to the Azores. As of this morning, Alex has slightly weakened, but retains hurricane status with sustained wind speeds of 75mph. Rainfall accumulations of 80 to 130mm are expected over the Azores today, with up to 170mm possible locally, bringing the risk of flash floods and mud slides. Over the weekend, high pressure over Western Europe will likely block the hurricane from moving towards the UK, with Alex expected to track north to north-westwards towards Greenland.

There has been an abnormally early start to the North Pacific hurricane season as well. Typhoon Pali became the earliest hurricane to form in the central North Pacific region on record, forming on the 11th January, but losing hurricane status since. Pali was also an interesting hurricane because it tracked towards the equator, which is unusual for a storm located in the centre of the Pacific. To be defined as a hurricane, wind speeds must exceed 74mph.