Earlier today, sub- tropical storm Alex was upgraded to a hurricane. This is unique situation since it is uncommon for tropical systems to form in the Atlantic in the month of January. In fact, according to the National Hurricane Center’s historical record which dates back to the 1930’s, we have only see 3 in the historical record.
January Tropical Systems
|Storm||Dates||Max Winds||Storm Strength|
|Zeta (2005)||Dec 30 - Jan 7||63 mph / 55 kts||Tropical Storm|
|Alice (1954)||Dec 30 - Jan 6||81 mph/ 70 kts||Cat 1 Hurricane|
|Unnamed (1938)||Jan 1 - Jan 6||81 mph / 70 kts||Cat 1 Hurricane|
Alex is the first storm to become a hurricane since the unnamed storm in 1938 and the first hurricane to occur in January since hurricane Alice in 1955.
National Hurricane Center’s Latest information on Alex
At 800 PM AST, Alex was located near latitude 33.9 North, longitude 27.8 West with a pressure of 981 mb (28.97 inches). Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane force winds extend out 25 miles (35 km) while tropical storm force winds extend out to 175 miles (280 km). Santa Maria in the Azores has reported wind gusts of up to 45 mph (72 kn/h) in the past few hours.
Alex is moving toward the north near 22 mph and is expected to continue a northward motion tonight and Friday. Alex will then turn toward the north-northwest on Saturday. On the forecast track, Alex will move near or over portions of the Azores Friday morning.
Alex is expected to maintain Category 1 hurricane strength for the next day or so but is anticipated to transition to a subtropical storm on Friday, as it loses its tropical characteristics.
Hurricane Warnings are in effect parts of the central Azores while Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the Eastern Azores. Tropical storm force winds are expected to begin over portions of the Azores during the next several hours. Hurricane conditions are expected to spread over the central Azores by early Friday. For those in the windward higher elevations of the Azores, the winds will likely stronger as typically windward sides of hills and mountains can see up to 30% stronger speeds than the near-surface winds.
In addition to the winds, a significant storm surge and heavy rainfall is also a concern for the Azores. The main area of focus for storm surge is on the eastern side of the storm where significant coastal flooding is likely due to the combined surge and large waves. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches with isolated 7 inch amounts will likely produce flash flooding and mudslides.
This storm will also impact shipping routes.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.